Associated Press Writer
Congress to test bounds of its war power
Tue Jan 30, 2007 16:06

Congress to test bounds of its war power

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush may be the decision maker, but the Democratic-controlled Congress holds the purse strings.

Whether to yank them shut when it comes to the conflict in Iraq , and under what conditions, is the question facing newly empowered majority Democrats.

No one challenges the notion that Congress can stop a war by canceling its funding. In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged Congress to back up its objections to Bush‘s plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq by zeroing out the war budget.

But there are other legislative options to force the war‘s end, say majority Democrats and some of Bush‘s traditional Republican allies.

"The Constitution makes Congress a coequal branch of government. It‘s time we start acting like it," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who is chairing a hearing Tuesday on Congress‘ war powers and forwarding legislation to eventually prohibit funding for the deployment of troops to Iraq.

Closer to that threshold is a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush‘s proposal to send 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is "not in the national interest." The Senate could take up that measure early next month.

Democr, , ) of California, for example, is a sponsor of a bill that would call for troops to come home in 180 days and allow for a minimum number of forces to be left behind to hunt down terrorists and train Iraqi security forces.

Congress used its war powers to cut off or put conditions on funding for the Vietnam war and conflicts in Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia.

But presidents also can veto legislation and Bush likely has enough support in Congress on Iraq to withstand any veto override attempts.

"In , , ), R-Va., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee . But the veteran senator and former Navy secretary said he understands the debate over Congress‘ ability to check the executive branch.

In recent decades, presidents have routinely bypassed Congress when deploying troops to fight. Not since World War II has Congress issued an official declaration of war, despite lengthy wars fought in Vietnam and Korea.

Congress does not have to approve military maneuvers.

John Yoo, who as a Justice Department lawyer helped write the 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion, called that document a political one designed only to bring Democrats on board and spread accountability for the conflict.

The resolution passed by a 296-133 vote in the then-GOP-run House and 77-23 in the Democratic-led Senate, but it was not considered a declaration of war.


Senators Assert Right to Block Bush’s Iraq Plan
New York Times - 30 minutes ago
By JOHN O’NEIL. The Senate Judiciary Committee began laying the constitutional groundwork today for an effort to block President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq, or to put new limits on the conduct of the war there.


The War Powers Act of 1973
Concerning the war powers of Congress and the President



The three branches of the U.S. Government are the legislative, executive, and judicial. A complete diagram of the branches of the U.S. Government may be found in the U.S. Government Manual


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