Thursday, Feb 22, 2007, 6:46 pm
Democrats Planning to Repeal Bush’s War Authorization Resolution
Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman for WaPo report:
Senate Democratic leaders intend to unveil a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in favor of narrower authority that restricts the military's role and begins withdrawals of combat troops.
In both chambers, Democratic lawmakers are eager to take up binding legislation that would impose clear limits on U.S. involvement in Iraq after nearly four years of war. But Democrats remain divided over how to proceed. Some want to avoid the funding debate altogether, fearing it would invite Republican charges that the party is not supporting the troops. Others take a more aggressive view, believing the most effective way to confront Bush's war policy is through a $100 billion war-spending bill that the president ultimately must sign to keep the war effort on track.
"I've had enough of 'nonbinding,' " said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who is helping to draft the new Democratic proposal. The 2002 war resolution, he said, is an obvious target.
"The authorization that we gave the president back in 2002 is completely, completely outdated, inappropriate to what we're engaged in today," he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) began calling for a reauthorization of the war early last month and raised it again last week, during a gathering in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Participants included Kerry, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (Mich.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.). Those Democratic senators have emerged as an unofficial war council representing the caucus's wide range of views.
The new framework would set a goal for withdrawing combat brigades by March 31, 2008, the same timetable established by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Once the combat phase ends, troops would be restricted to assisting Iraqis with training, border security and counterterrorism.
Senior Democratic aides said the proposed resolution would be sent directly to the Senate floor for action, without committee review, possibly as an amendment to a homeland security bill scheduled for debate next week.