Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rep. Udall Introduces Iran Legislation

On Thursday, July 19, Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) legislation to prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran without Congressional authorization. The legislation is a companion bill to Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) S. 759

Below is the full text of Rep. Udall's introduction of the legislation into the House of Representatives. When the bill is available, I will add it.

of Colorado
in the House of Representatives
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing a bill to prevent the Bush Administration from launching war in Iran without prior congressional authorization. It is a companion bill to S. 759, authored by Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

This is not a unique proposal--several of our colleagues in the House have introduced resolutions expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress.

This legislation would establish a binding legal limit on the ability of the President to expend funds to commence military action against Iran in the absence of explicit prior congressional authorization.

I think several factors require Congress to insist that the President meet that requirement before committing this country to another war. Those factors include this administration's inability or unwillingness to engage with the Iranian regime, the stated interest on the part of many administration officials and political supporters in attacking Iran, and the U.S. deployment of additional aircraft carrier groups to the Persian Gulf.

These have led many--likely including the Iranian regime--to think the U.S. is intent on preparing a military strike against Iran. While that perception could be far from the mark, I think there is no doubt that there are increased risks of confrontation brought on by heightened tensions in the region.

If we've learned nothing else from the war in Iraq, we should have learned that saber rattling doesn't get us far--especially when the tough rhetoric comes from an administration with a history of mismanaging the war in Iraq, a war that is in its fifth year of straining our military and depleting our Nation's blood and treasure.

As I said in 2002--before voting against the resolution authorizing war in Iraq--I am reluctant to vest in the President all discretion about when and where America will go to war. I thought then and I think today that Congress, which has the constitutional responsibility to declare war, must play a more significant role in authorizing the use of our armed forces in what could become a full-scale war.

My purpose in introducing this legislation is to reassert Congress's constitutional responsibility and to remind the Bush Administration of the important role that Congress plays when it comes to matters of war and peace.

I recognize that the President, as commander-in-chief, must have some flexibility in deciding whether to allow U.S. forces to conduct intelligence gathering and to directly respond to attacks or possible attacks from Iran. That's why my legislation makes exceptions for these contingencies.

Madam Speaker, my introduction of this legislation should not be seen as evidence that I deny the reality of the potential danger Iran presents to our country, our allies, and others.

The prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons is a matter of serious concern for America and the rest of the world. Since the revelation of its nuclear program, Iran has defied the international community by continuing to work to advance it, Iran's president has publicly stated his intention to “wipe Israel off the map,” and there is evidence that Iran is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So it is no surprise that there are also reports--as recently as last month--that the internal debate on Iran among the White House, State Department, and Defense Department is heating up, and that the mood is shifting back toward military action against Iran. My bill responds to those reports by reasserting the basic principle that Congress must consent before the president can take such action.

Sending our troops into harm's way is a decision that affects all Americans, as we've learned the hard way in Iraq. So before this president makes any more rash decisions about going to war, I believe he must come to Congress for authorization to commence military action.

The bill I am introducing today--like its companion in the Senate--is intended to do one thing: to restore the balance between the executive and legislative branches with regard to authorizing large-scale military activities. It is a balance that needs restoring after the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and it is a balance we should be watching closely as some in the Administration continue to discuss presidential authority to wage war in contravention of the Constitution.

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