James Lankford on War & Peace
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Kucinich, D-OH]:The American people oppose this war by a margin of two to one. Nearly 2/3 of Americans say the war isn't worth fighting. We are spending $100 billion per year on this war. There are those who are saying the war could last at least another 10 years. Are we willing to spend another $1 trillion on a war that doesn't have any exit plan, for which there is no timeframe to get out, no endgame, where we haven't defined our mission? The question is not whether we can afford to leave. The question is, can we afford to stay? And I submit we cannot afford to stay. The counterintelligence strategy of General Petraeus is an abysmal failure, and it needs to be called as such.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL]: This resolution would undermine the efforts of our military and our international partners in Afghanistan and would gravely harm our Nation's security. 3,000 people died on Sep. 11 because we walked away once from Afghanistan, thinking that it didn't matter who controlled that country. We were wrong then. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Completing our mission in Afghanistan is essential to keeping our homeland safe. This is about our vital national security interests. It is about doing what is necessary to ensure that al Qaeda and other extremists cannot reestablish safe havens such as the ones they had in Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks were planned against our Nation and our people. The enemy, indeed, is on the run. It is demoralized and divided. Let us not give up now.
Congressional Summary: H Amdt 1141 authorizes training and equipping appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition; requires detailed reports (including progress reports) on the plan, vetting process, and procedures for monitoring unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment; and permits the Secretary of Defense to accept foreign contributions.
Statement in support by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA-25): I offer an amendment to HJ.124 to provide authority to train and equip elements of the Syrian opposition in order to defend the Syrian people from attacks by ISIL and to protect the US and our friends and allies. ISIL is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the US. The President has requested the authority to train and equip nongovernmental entities fighting in the non-U.S.-led operation in Syria. There is no doubt that any strategy to defeat ISIL must contain a Syrian component. I believe that there are options to defeat ISIL in Syria short of a major U.S.-led combat operation. But the window of opportunity is closing.
Statement in opposition by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13): I don't see where the President needs authority to do what we are about to allow him to do because of a threat to the US. I haven't come close, in convincing [myself or my constituents] that training people overseas, that we don't know, to fight ISIS is in their best national interest. Already we have lost trillions of dollars and over 6,000 lives in this area, and I don't think we have yet to declare war. This honorable body [should] determine whether or not any enemy is a threat to the US and that we are going to go to war with them, that we should force every American to evaluate whether or not they believe that they are prepared to make sacrifices.
Legislative outcome: Amendment passed House 273-156-9 on 17-Sep-2014.
Ballotpedia.org summary:Dozens of Republican senators wrote an open letter to the leadership of Iran, warning them that any nuclear deal signed between Iran and U.S. President Barack Obama might not last beyond his presidency, without Congress signing off on it as well. No Democrats signed it. [The letter caused intense backlash. V.P. Joe Biden said of the letter, "In 36 years in the US Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country--much less a longtime foreign adversary--that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them." On Twitter, the hashtag "47Traitors" became the top trending topic in the world, and a debate raged as to whether the 47 who signed the letter were traitors or patriots. Here is the text of the letter.
An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
Under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a 2/3 vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.
Axios.com summary: The House passed a symbolic war powers resolution directing President Trump to halt the use of military force against Iran unless he obtains approval from Congress.
The big picture: A classified briefing on the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani [by the US military] left Democrats and even some Republicans deeply skeptical, with many claiming that officials did not provide evidence that there was an "imminent" threat from Iran. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said they will vote in favor of a similar resolution in the Senate [S J Res 68].
What opponents are saying: Former national security adviser and notorious Iran hawk John Bolton tweeted: "The 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the President and Congress. The Resolution should be repealed." Pres. Trump quote tweeted Bolton and added: "Smart analysis, I fully agree!"
What supporters are saying: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was one of the few Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution, stating on the House floor: "Killing Soleimani was the right decision, but engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced legislation that would block funding for offensive military force against Iran without congressional authorization. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is also seeking to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used repeatedly to justify war in the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001, criticizing it as a "blank check."
Legislative outcome: H Con Res 83 Passed House 224-194-13 on 1/9/20; S J Res 68 passed Senate 55-45-0 on 2/13/20. Vetoed 5/6; Senate veto override failed 5/7/20.
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