Friday, May 04, 2007

2002 War Authorization On The Table Again, Pt. 2

This idea has been bandied about since February (see 2002 War Authorization On The Table Again).

Now, a prominent 2008 Democratic presidential candidate is backing a plan to put the president's original authorization for the Iraq War back in play.

As Democrats in Congress search for new ways to bring an end to the conflict in Iraq while producing a funding bill that President Bush will sign, the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination yesterday endorsed legislation that would revoke the administration's authority to wage the war.

Amid a flurry of backroom negotiations yesterday afternoon, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) took the Senate floor to join Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.) in offering a bill that would sunset the 2002 authorization of military operations in Iraq. It would take away the president's authority to wage war in Iraq five years to the day after it was granted, meaning Bush would be required to convince Congress to reapprove it in October. ...

Clinton's endorsement of the sunset legislation represents a significant escalation in her opposition to the White House on war policy and signals an effort by Democratic presidential candidates -- including four sitting senators -- to assume higher profiles in the war debate. For Clinton, it is also an opportunity to address what has emerged as perhaps her greatest liability in the Democratic contest: her vote to authorize the war. "If the president will not bring himself to accept reality, it is time for Congress to bring reality to him," said Clinton, who has expressed support for a similar de-authorization, although not as a stand-alone bill.

The Clinton-Byrd proposal, which was floated in February but not introduced, emerged as Democrats began weighing different legislative vehicles to end the war. One approach favored by many House members is to allow a relatively unencumbered, shorter-term spending bill to reach the president, while the weightier and more controversial war-policy language would be shifted to another measure.

Another Democratic proposal is also making the rounds.

House Democratic leaders last night mulled a new proposal, floated by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.), that would fund the war effort for three months, through the end of August. Further funding would come only after Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, briefed Congress on military progress and the progress of the Iraqi government in achieving a set of benchmarks, such as quelling sectarian violence, disarming militias and adopting changes to the Iraqi constitution to guarantee equality among ethnic and religious groups. ...

Obey, who is leading the negotiations for House Democrats, told a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting yesterday that leaders will divide war policy prescriptions among three bills: a second version of the $124 billion emergency war-funding bill; the annual defense policy bill; and the 2008 defense spending bill. All three would come to the House floor in rapid succession.

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