I’m working on an article now about what powers Congress has to prevent Bush from attacking Iran. And there’s quite a lot they could doâ€”if they want to. So if we find ourselves at war with Iran, it won’t just be Bush’s responsibility. It will also belong to a Democratic-controlled Congress.
One of the most powerful of Congress’ tools would be to attach a prohibition of such an attack without their approval to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq. Bush might veto it, but he’d pay a political price for it.
And to Nancy Pelosi’s credit, she at least pretended she wanted to add such language to the House version of the current supplemental. To her enormous discredit, she’s now folding:
Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush’s authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.
Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.
Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.
Here are the only specific Democrats the article cites:
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.
“It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran,” she said of the now-abandoned provision.
“I didn’t think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you’re trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York.
That’s a great argument. Obviously the proposed language wouldn’t “take away” the possibility of the U.S. using force. It would only take away the possibility of Bush using force without Congressional approval. In other words, both Berkley and Ackerman want Iran to believe Bush might attack them even if Congress opposes it.
In this, Berkley and Ackerman are regressing from their votes in 2002 to give Bush authority to attack Iraq. Now they want Bush to be able to attack Iran without even asking their opinion.