Richard Neal on War & Peace
Democratic Representative (MA-2)
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: Resolved, That President George W. Bush be impeached for committing the following abuses of power:
Rep. Wasserman-Schultz: Impeachment is a lengthy process which would divide Congress and this nation even more deeply than we are divided right now. Referring this resolution to the House Judiciary Committee is the constitutionally appropriate process that should be pursued.
Rep. Ron Paul: I rise, reluctantly, in favor of referring that resolution to the House Judiciary Committee for full consideration, which essentially directs the committee to examine the issue more closely than it has done to this point.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
The Out of Iraq Caucus was created in June 2005 to unite members of the House in favor of returning American troops from Iraq. The group's chair, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the following when announcing its formation:
"The Out of Iraq Congressional Working Group is a newly formed effort whose sole purpose is to be the main agitators in the movement to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Our efforts will include the coordination of activities and legislation designed to achieve our goal of returning our troops home. Through floor statements, press conferences, TV and radio appearances and other actions, we will provide leadership for the American Public who has been waiting too long for our collective voices against the war."
In a speech on the floor of the House shortly after the group's first meeting, Waters emphasized that the group was not calling for an exit from Iraq on any specific date. Rather, she said it more generally opposed a continued U.S. presence in the country. Waters promised that the caucus would do the following towards this aim:
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.
Congressional Summary: H.J.Res.37 directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen within 30 days unless Congress authorizes a later withdrawal date, issues a declaration of war, or specifically authorizes the use of the Armed Forces. Prohibited activities include providing in-flight fueling for non-U.S. aircraft conducting missions as part of the conflict in Yemen.
Statement in opposition by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN-1): This legislation would hamper the ability of our military commanders to limit terrorist activity in Yemen, and would create a vacuum for Iran to fill. I believe that the withdrawal of our forces from the region should be done in a way that ensures long term security and stability
Statement in support by Rep. Adam David Smith (D-WA-9): The civil war in Yemen has led to the world's worst humanitarian crisis with over half of the population facing severe food insecurity and 24 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance. Passage of this resolution in the House sends a clear message to this Administration that Congress does not support de facto support for the Saudi-led coalition in this conflict. The US should be focused on working towards a peaceful resolution to this conflict and taking measures to alleviate the devastating humanitarian situation."
Statement in opposition by Rep. George Holding (R-NC-02): As part of their expansive campaign to destabilize the region, Iran is providing extensive support and aid to the Houthi rebel forces responsible for precipitating this conflict in the first place. Thankfully, Saudi Arabia has stepped up and taken a key leadership role in combating the Iranian-backed rebels. We should be supporting their efforts.
Legislative outcome: House Bill Passed 248-177-6 on rollcall #577. No action in Senate [died in Committee].
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.
Politico.com in OPPOSITION, 3/25/21: Republicans who opposed repealing the 2002 authorization said that it should be replaced because Iraq is still home to terror groups that threaten the United States. Rep. Michael McCaul called for consultations with first in order to craft a replacement. "Real AUMF reform requires Congress and the administration working together on actual text to replace the aging 2001 and 2002 AUMFs to provide authorities needed to keep the American people, and, most importantly, our deployed troops, safe from terrorists," McCaul said.
Heritage Foundation in SUPPORT (1/6/20): There has been an open and vibrant debate about whether the 2001 AUMF covers ISIS, a terrorist organization that did not even exist when the 2001 statute was passed and has disavowed and formally broken away from al-Qaeda, the group that is covered by the 2001 AUMF. Yet both the Obama and Trump Administrations claim that the 2001 AUMF covers ISIS and associated forces. Congress has shied away from the much-needed debate about whether the 2002 Iraq AUMF is no longer necessary.
Legislative Outcome: Passed House 268-161-2 on H.R.256 on 6/17/2021 (rollcall 172; no vote on S.J.R.10 nor H.R.3261 in 2021)
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