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November 22, 2014

Congress Won’t Block Obama on Iraq

duckworth062014 445x294 Congress Wont Block Obama on Iraq

Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs during her military service, said Obama needs flexibility to deal with the situation in Iraq. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s now clear Congress will not block President Barack Obama from using force in Iraq if he chooses, despite opposition primarily from the president’s own party.

A key takeaway from a series of late-night votes on the Defense appropriations bill is that a sizable antiwar group of House Democrats oppose Obama’s plan to engage militarily, and don’t support his plans to continue a global war on terror beyond the end of this year.

While the House itself preserved the president’s authority to act under the 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, and the broad, 2001 anti-terror authorization, Democrats led by Rep. Barbara Lee of California overwhelmingly voted to defund both war authorities.

And most House Democrats are now on record opposing combat operations in Iraq, even as Obama has indicated he will send up to 300 military advisers to the country and is prepared to launch strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

A small group of Republicans joined 142 Democrats voting to bar spending on combat in Iraq. The amendment failed 165-250.

“We must not let history repeat itself in Iraq,” Lee said in a statement. “The reality is there is no military solution in Iraq.”

Lee, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Peace and Security Task Force, was backed by CPC Co-Chairmen Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Reps. Janice Hahn of California and Rick Nolan of Minnesota also were lead co-sponsors.

Their message to Obama was clear: Keep the U.S. military out of it.

“There is no ‘part way’ when it comes to military involvement,” Grijalva said in a statement.

“Airstrikes and sending combat troops to Iraq is not the way forward,” Ellison said.

“We’ve given Iraq a chance. Now they need to stand on their own,” Nolan said. “This is a 1,400-year-old conflict, and unless we are prepared to bankrupt ourselves spending another 1,400 years policing it, we need to stay out.”

Senate Democrats seem to be reluctantly accepting of the president’s approach — for now, and are happy he doesn’t plan to engage in ground combat. But some of them want Obama to come to Congress if operations continue for more than a short period of time.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan said the president should only launch strikes if Iraqi leaders of the three major sects — Sunni, Kurd and Shiite — jointly ask the United States to do so first.

Obama has urged the Iraqi government to take steps to have a more inclusive government, but he has said he’s prepared to strike ISIL. Incoming White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the president’s decision to target ISIL was not limited to the borders of Iraq alone. Earnest noted that the president has taken direct action against terrorists in other countries, including Somalia, Yemen and Libya, and is “resolved” to do what it takes to secure the nation.

But a contingent of Democratic hawks remains, even in the House.

On the House Iraq combat amendment, four of the 44 Democrats who voted “no” were party leaders: Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Hoyer told CQ Roll Call that given the instability in Iraq, now isn’t the right time to tie the administration’s hands.

“I think we’re in a particularly unstable situation right now in Iraq and indeed in Syria, as well,” Hoyer said. “And I think it was time to sort of take stock and not to take actions with the context of what is a very volatile situation.”

Other Democrats to vote “no” were two veterans, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Duckworth told CQ Roll Call that she has a unique understanding of war that allows her to see the multiple dimensions of the amendment blocking funding for combat in Iraq — and she said the amendment gave Obama too little flexibility.

“If you’re gonna send in airstrikes, then you need a contingency team ready to go in case you have a down aviator, and I know a little something about being shot down over Iraq,” said Duckworth, who lost both legs during her military service.

Another “no” vote came from Foreign Affairs ranking member Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y.

“After two long wars, the American people are tired and weary, and so am I, and the Iraq war was fed to us on a lie and with faulty information,” Engel said Friday. “Forty-four hundred Americans died, a trillion dollars and people want us out of there, and so do I.” But the recent chaos, Engel conceded, “gives us pause to have absolutes. I do not think this is time for absolutes.”

Correction: An earlier version of this report misidentified Barbara Lee.

Related stories:

Obama Prepared for Iraq Action Without Congress

Obama not asking Congress’ Permission on Iraq

Amendments Opposing Iraq War Could Put House Democrats in Tough Spot

Obama’s Democrats Wary of Military Action in Iraq

Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Act Never Expired

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  • Yonatan YONATAN

    THE CONGRESS APPROVES BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THE UKRAINE, YET THE SENATE WON’T PASS THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION BILL,FOR THE THREE MILLION UBEMPLOYED FAMILIES WITHOUT BENEFITS SINCE LAST DECEMBER. WE CAN SEND OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS TO WAR, BUT CAN’T GIVE THEM GOOD HEALTHCARE WHEN THEY RETURN. WE HELP COUNTRIES ALL AROUND THE WORLD, BUT DON’T THINK THAT THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS HERE AT HOME ARE IMPORTANT. IT’S BEEN ALMOST SIX MONTHS NOW, THAT THESE UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES HAVE WAITED FOR THE EXTENSION BILL TO PASS IN THE SENATE, AND THEY ARE STILL WAITING. THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS HAVE FAILED THESE PEOPLE. IN THE COMING ELECTION, IT’S TIME FOR THESE THREE MILLION VOTERS ELECT PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO WILL ACTUALLY SERVE THE PUBLIC, AND NOT THEIR OWN POCKETS.

    • http://americansforpetraeus2012.org JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

      Get a job

  • Layla

    Draft Congress for this war. They are ones who kept us from finishing it.

  • Mike Rosoft

    In this YouTube video we find more background on Hussein Obama’s brother Malik, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist operative: http://youtu.be/ihfr-yx5aB4?t=11m45s

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    For many Americans, “The American Dream”, has turned out to be “The American Nightmare”. While the republicans in the senate enjoy their American dream lifestyle, they condemned three million unemployed families, to poverty, and to financial ruin. Since late last December, these families have watched their savings, their homes, their security, disappear before their eyes. Over the past six months, the republicans held the extension bill “hostage” in the senate, for political leverage, and their party’s agenda. They had no intention of ever helping these families, but continued to prolong their suffering. While Billions of dollars was approved for the Ukraine, nothing was approved for these people. These politicians have shown not only a lack of compassion, and common decency, but utter contempt for the poor and unemployed. There are no “family values” in their party’s agenda whatsoever. They have failed these millions of families. They are truly a disgrace to the office they hold, and need to be voted out of their jobs in the coming elections. They expect us to send our sons and daughters off to war, but not expect help to survive while they’re away.

  • ShadrachSmith

    The worst president in American history, Buchanan included.

  • Peter Gardiner

    This is a difficult issue and while I agree we should not unduly tie the President’s hands we should, at least at this stage, proceed with great caution. Fortunately, I believe that is what Obama is currently doing. However we need to understand that this is a time bomb. The ISIL, like al Qaeda are a particularly virulent brand of extremist Islam that is a threat not just to Shia but to more moderate Sunni as well and particularly, like al Qaeda to the Sunni royals of the gulf. Current policy should be to (a) make sure we have plans in place to protect US nationals in the region (the ships, limited number of troops to the embassy), (b), strengthen our capacity to monitor and collect intelligence (satellites, drones, etc) which is what we are also currently doing and (c) look for ways to quietly assist in spatially containing the conflict as much as possible without getting directly involved (a bit of raproachement with Iran fits in here). But the complexities make it clear that to go any further at this point would be an invitation to disaster.

  • Nat Ional

    In related YouTube video, we find a typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama has chosen to support in Syria: http://youtu.be/U3EwHqvEAXM?t=8m11s

  • Braven Eworld

    In related YouTube video, we find a fairly typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama’s regime has chosen to support in Syria: http://youtu.be/U3EwHqvEAXM?t=8m11s

  • virgie

    Don’t make the same mistake I did and try to trade the Forex market that is a losing market for sure. Go to the website Bionic Traders, that’s where I went now I’m trading the futures market which is so much better than the Forex. Trading the futures I’ve not had a losing week yet and I’m getting better and better at it.

  • http://americansforpetraeus2012.org JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    Lee and Obama see eye to eye on everything. She doesn’t have to act like she would mistrust Obama. She doesn’t ! They are both EXTREME leftists whose patriotism for this country is questionable. Whatever reason you’re writing this as if you don’t already know the answers of the questions being raised…is anybody’s guess ?

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    IT’S NICE THAT THEY ALL CAN ALL FINALLY AGREE ON SOMETHING. TOO BAD IT’S ON WAR., AND TOO BAD IT’S OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS THAT WILL PAY FOR IT.

    THERE ARE STILL THREE MILLION UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS SINCE LATE LAST DECEMBER, STILL WITHOUT AN EXTENSION BILL. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TOTOALLY FAILED THESE FAMILIES, AND LEFT THEM FALLING INTO FINANCIAL RUIN AND POVERTY. FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS THE REPUBLICANS HAVE MADE EVERY ATTEMPT TO KILL THE BILL IN THE SENATE. WHILE THESE FAMILIES HAVE FACED EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS, THE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WALKED AWAY FROM THE ISSUE, LEAVING THESE FAMILIES WITHOUT HOPE OR HELP. THEY HAVE SHOWN A TOTAL LACK OF COMPASSION AND COMMON DECENCY TOWARDS THESE UNFORTUNATE PEOPLE. BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AID FOR THE UKRAINE HAS BEEN APPROVED, BUT NOTHING FOR THESE AMERICAN FAMILIES HERE AT HOME IN OUR COUNTRY. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH THE PULSE OF THE NATION. THEY FAILED THESE PEOPLE.

  • Defend Liberty Philly Dude

    In related YouTube video, we find a typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama has chosen to support in Syria: http://youtu.be/U3EwHqvEAXM?t=8m11s

  • Al Egro

    In related YouTube video, we find a fairly typical example of the Al Nusra Front “allies” that Hussein Obama has chosen to support in Syria: http://youtu.be/U3EwHqvEAXM?t=8m11s

  • Three Friends

    In related news, Egypt has stepped up and filed a credible criminal complaint with the International Criminal Court against Obama: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/11/08/obama-accused-of-crimes-against-humanity-at-international-criminal-court/

  • Emmanuel Ezekiel

    In related YouTube video, we find Hussein Obama offering verbal support to the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcVvxkMUivk&feature=youtu.be&t=6m28s

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