Prohibition.–Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be obligated or expended by the United States government to increase the number of United States forces in Iraq above the number for such forces which existed as of January 9, 2007, without a specific authorization from Congress by law for such an increase.

— From Sen. Edward Kennedy’s bill introduced today. (See Sen. Kennedy’s site, “It’s Not His Decision. It’s Ours,” with a petition you can sign | Full text of the bill | C-Span video/audio | TPM Muckraker‘s story.)

Many, including Senate Foreign Relations chair Joe Biden, have said there’s nothing realistically that Congress can do to stop President Bush from his troop escalation. But Kennedy, in his remarks to the National Press Club today, says:

The American people sent a clear message in November that we must change course in Iraq and begin to withdraw our troops, not escalate their presence. The way to start is by acting on the President’s new plan. An escalation, whether it is called a surge or any other name, is still an escalation, and I believe it would be an immense new mistake. It would compound the original misguided decision to invade Iraq. We cannot simply speak out against an escalation of troops in Iraq. We must act to prevent it.

Today I am introducing legislation to reclaim the rightful role of Congress and the people’s right to a full voice in the President’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. My bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation, unless and until Congress approves the President’s plan.

My proposal will not diminish our support for the forces we already have in Iraq. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure they have all the support they truly need. Even more important, we will continue to do all we can to bring them safely home. The best immediate way to support our troops is by refusing to inject more and more of them into the cauldron of a civil war that can be resolved only by the people and government of Iraq.

This bill will give all Americans – from Maine to Florida to California to Alaska and Hawaii – an opportunity to hold the President accountable for his actions. The President’s speech must be the beginning – not the end – of a new national discussion of our policy in Iraq. Congress must have a genuine debate over the wisdom of the President’s plan. Let us hear the arguments for it and against it. Then let us vote on it in the light of day. Let the American people hear – yes or no – where their elected representatives stand on one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Until now, a rubber stamp Republican Congress has refused to hold the White House accountable on Iraq. But the November election has dramatically changed all that. Over the past two years, Democrats reached for their roots as true members of our Party. We listened to the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans. We rejected the politics of fear and division. We embraced a vision of hope and shared purpose. And the American people voted for change.

Many of us felt the authorization to go to war was a grave mistake at the time. I’ve said that my vote against the war in Iraq is the best vote I’ve cast in my 44 years in the United States Senate.

But no matter what any of us thought then, the Iraq War resolution is obviously obsolete today. It authorized a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction. But there were no WMDs to destroy. It authorized a war with Saddam Hussein. But today, Saddam is no more. It authorized a war because Saddam was allied with al Qaeda. But there was no alliance.

The mission of our armed forces today in Iraq bears no resemblance whatever to the mission authorized by Congress. President Bush should not be permitted to escalate the war further, and send an even larger number of our troops into harm’s way, without a clear and specific new authorization from Congress.

Our history makes clear that a new escalation in our forces will not advance our national security. It will not move Iraq toward self-government, and it will needlessly endanger our troops by injecting more of them into the middle of a civil war.

… Comparisons from history resonate painfully in today’s debate on Iraq. In Vietnam, the White House grew increasingly obsessed with victory, and increasingly divorced from the will of the people and any rational policy. The Department of Defense kept assuring us that each new escalation in Vietnam would be the last. Instead, each one led only to the next.

There was no military solution to that war. But we kept trying to find one anyway. In the end, 58,000 Americans died in the search for it.

Echoes of that disaster are all around us today. Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam.

As with Vietnam, the only rational solution to the crisis is political, not military. Injecting more troops into a civil war is not the answer. Our men and women in uniform cannot force the Iraqi people to reconcile their differences.

The President may deny the plain truth. But the truth speaks loudly and tragically. Congress must no longer follow him deeper into the quagmire in Iraq.

Think Progress blog adds:

FACT CHECK: Congress Has Repeatedly Placed Limits On Military Deployments And Funding

Tomorrow night at 9 p.m. EST, President Bush will address the nation and announce an escalation of the war in Iraq by sending about 20,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq. Can Congress do anything about it?

Some members have claimed that anything other than symbolic action is unconstitutional. Legal scholars on both the left and the right say that’s false. History supports their case.

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how, over the last 35 years, Congress has passed bills, enacted into law, that capped the size of military deployments, prohibited funding for existing or prospective deployment, and placed limits and conditions on the timing and nature of deployments. Some examples:

December 1970. P.L. 91-652 — Supplemental Foreign Assistance Law. The Church-Cooper amendment prohibited the use of any funds for the introduction of U.S. troops to Cambodia or provide military advisors to Cambodian forces.

December 1974. P.L. 93-559 — Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. The Congress established a personnel ceiling of 4000 Americans in Vietnam within six months of enactment and 3000 Americans within one year.

June 1983. P.L. 98-43 — The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983. The Congress required the president to return to seek statutory authorization if he sought to expand the size of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.

June 1984. P.L. 98-525 — The Defense Authorization Act. The Congress capped the end strength level of United States forces assigned to permanent duty in European NATO countries at 324,400.

November 1993. P.L. 103-139. The Congress limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994, permitting expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.

Read the full report for more examples.

You know the drill. Here’s the direct link to the U.S. Senate Web site. And here’s a link to hearings this week on Iraq, along with contact information for each House and Senate committee holding the hearings.

  • Chris Vosburg

    Oh, what’s the fucking use, grayferret, just run away, like you always do when things get tough. Here’s some music to get you started, with apologies to Monty Python:

    Fearless in his sacrifice,
    And courage was his only vice,
    courageously behind the others,
    He bravely sacrificed his brothers,
    When facts and questions reared their head,
    He bravely turned his tail and fled.

    Brave, brave Sir Lackballs!

  • Chris Vosburg

    Graywolf writes: “I rest my case.”

    Still waiting patiently for you to make one, Sonny. So far, all you’ve done is lie and parade your impressive level of ignorance for us.

    You can start by backing up your contention that all Guantanamo prisoners are terrorists.

    Come on, it’s your contention; back it up, lackballs.

  • Graywolf, it’s YOUR war. And that makes YOU the loser.

    Well, ‘cept you won’t even help the war effort. Sad.

  • graywolf

    Juvenile, immature loony left losers….

    “graywolf : GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!
    Posted by: ybnormal

    I rest my case.

  • ybnormal

    I’m going to have to admit, I doubt if I can ever blog like Garrison Keillor.

    Daddy issues
    By Garrison Keillor

    “The word ‘surge’ keeps cropping up, as if we were fighting the war with electricity and not human beings.”

  • David Blankley

    Unfortunately it took segregationist Governor Wallace to reveal the truth that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between” Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats willingly went along with the War in Iraq, suspension of Habeas Corpus, detaining protesters, banning books like “America Deceived’ from Amazon, stealing private lands (Kelo decision), warrant-less wiretapping and refusing to investigate 9/11 properly. They are both guilty of treason. Look at the bright side, when we have to vote the Democrats out, we’ll have no choice but to vote for a Third Party.
    Support indy media.
    Last link (before Google Books bends to gov’t Will and drops the title):

  • Leslie

    Bush has already surged the escalation ahead of any Congressional discussion or vote, from Reuters:

    “President George W. Bush will tell skeptical Americans on Wednesday he will send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq….

    “The fresh infusion of troops will join about 130,000 already in Iraq. Senior administration officials said 17,500 would go to Baghdad and 4,000 to volatile Anbar province.

    “The first wave of troops are expected to arrive in five days, with others coming in additional waves. Under the plan, the Iraqi government will deploy additional Iraqi troops to Baghdad with a first brigade deploying February 1 and two more by February 15.”

    Bush will ignore Congress, the will of the people, his generals, the Iraq Study Group and anyone else. The troop escalation begins next week.

  • ybnormal

    RE Leslie: “What are the odds, however, that Bush has already committed the troops to Iraq despite Kennedy’s bill or Feingold’s or our protests?”

    INDEED! Can we spell S-I-G-N-I-N-G S-T-A-T-E–M-E-N-T ?

    Not only that; what are the odds the “surge” will end up including a lot of pilots flying aircraft with really big guns mounted in them? Overcompensating for lack of fatherly recognition seems to be W’s MO.
    As the snake said to the lady, “…but you knew I was a snake when you let me in”

    also Leslie; note that “surge” is in Quotes

  • Leslie

    Surge, escalation, whatever…it won’t work!

    But what is Bush doing? He just sent fighter jets to Korea [see], we’re preemptively bombing anyone in Somalia we suspect of being al Qaeda, we’re surging Iraq [same as the old surge], we’re losing Afghanistan, and we’re threatening Iran. And god forbid we should talk to anyone before we bomb them, or let Congress or the American people know what the fuck we’re doing. Bush is the decider.

  • Concerned citizen

    We need to change the language of the debate and stop using the Bush regime word “surge”. We need to call it a plan for mass murder and label GWB as the homicidal maniac that he is.

  • Leslie

    Via Americablog, an appropos and hysterical episode from the BBC comedy “Blackadder:”

    GENERAL: Now, Field Marshal Hague has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.

    CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Ah, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy, sir?

    CAPTAIN DARLING: How could you possibly know that Blackadder, it’s classified information?

    CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: It’s the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.

    GENERAL: Ex… ex… ex… actly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard. Doing precisely what we’ve done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they’ll expect us to do this time!

    There is, however, one small problem.

    CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: That everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds?

    GENERAL: That’s right. And Field Marshal Hague is worried that this may be depressing the men a tad. So, he’s looking to find a way to cheer them up.

    CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Well, his resignation and suicide would seem the obvious.

  • Leslie

    United for Peace and Justice and MoveOn are all planning street protests to stop the surge, go here for protests in your area:

    There will be a protest in Times Square, Manhattan, tomorrow night—Thursday at 6-7 p.m.

    What are the odds, however, that Bush has already committed the troops to Iraq despite Kennedy’s bill or Feingold’s or our protests?

  • OKAY — Jim Webb is up next.


    Stop the Escalation:

    Call your members of Congress, ask their position, then email their response to:

    Please include your real name and zip code in your email. You can reach the Capitol switchboard toll-free at 800-614-2803. Just provide your zip code or ask for your members of Congress by name.

  • Haven’t heard Jim Webb yet.

    To listen, scroll to LIVE STREAM on the home page of C-Span, and select C-Span3.

    Tomorrow, the Senate For. Relations committee grills Condi. Woohoo.

  • I zapped Tupac’s incredibly long comment. Wrote him a note, asking him to shorten comments in the future. So that his info isn’t lost, here are the link to his site, and his contact info (which he provided in his post):

    Tel: (602) 254-5230

  • C-Span3 has Paul Pillar, others testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations committee…

  • ybnormal

    graywolf : GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!

    You know that looming threat over your left shoulder which you’re so willing to have others fight against? Look again closely, that threat is you yourself.
    You’re looking in the mirror!

  • ybnormal

    I was not in the military for Iraq or Viet Nam or Korea or WWII, so I can’t speak from personal experience about what the insanity on the ground is/was like. However, I was on the ground as a civilian in the Miracle Mile district in the middle of Los Angeles during the 1992 riots. It began on a Wednesday.

    The memory burned into my brain from that experience was that a population which has crossed the line into a mentality of self preservation is unlikely to be reasoned with. The original racially divisive issues which started the whole affair quickly faded into widespread general chaos and lawlessness, as people of all kinds reverted to an emotion driven survival mode. Get what you can, while you can. What finally ended it was NOT LAPD or the Sherriffs or the Highway Patrol, but the arrival of the National Guard. The big difference from our current problem, was that it was OUR National Guard, NOT some foreign country.

    At the degenerated point we’re at right now, no Iraqi is ever going to expect a foreign military (ours) to act in THEIR interest, no matter how much we tell them we are. A surge in force will only result in a surge of worse. Get used to it.

    On top of all that, throwing our last reserves at the problem makes us vulnerable in a very real way. With no one left to deal with a surprise situation on other potential fronts, then if it were to happen, guess who’ll be surprised!

  • Robert Hume

    Would somebody please organize a march on the mall?

  • Thinker

    This is good news Susan. We need to see more….MUCH MORE. But this is an excellent start.

  • Chris Vosburg

    And lastly, Congress authorized the use of military force in Iraq conditional to demonstration by the Executive of compelling reason to do so and further enumerated the acceptable reasons.

    The President, concurrent with his invasion, simply notified the Congress. Not a single bloody one of the conditions for doing so was met.

  • BrendaStewart

    Frankly, Gray, I do not care where you live….I would not like to be your neighbor. I therefore, would say that enlisting is yoru next best option. Put your money where your mouth is, buddy….you are the traitor here…

  • Chris Vosburg

    And while I’m on the subject, Graywolf:

    Read your goddam contract, Sonny.

    The Congress is charged with the responsibility for the defense of the United States, not the President.

    Do you need me to read it to you, or can you find a copy of the Constitution on your own?

  • Chris Vosburg

    Graywolf writes: “At least you people are consistent:
    Naive and politically correct.”

    That’s rich, coming from one who believes that every prisoner at Guantanamo is a terrorist.

  • 1watt

    I believe it, 1Watt. Just saw this. If Green’s obvious problems had been addressed, and he’d been removed from Iraq, that young Iraqi girl and her family would still be alive.

    The problem is systemic, having lived it I can guaranty (tho I can’t spell)that you learn to despise & hate the locals. You can multiply that story by a thousand.

  • graywolf

    At least you people are consistent:
    Naive and politically correct.

    You expect soldiers to be “nice”.
    Maybe read Miranda rights to terrorists?
    Send Ramadan cards?

    Torture in Guantanamo is denying suntan lotion to the terrorists.

    Take a grow-up pill.
    Lester; take 2 grow-up pills.

  • I believe it, 1Watt. Just saw this. If Green’s obvious problems had been addressed, and he’d been removed from Iraq, that young Iraqi girl and her family would still be alive.

    AP STORY: An Army private charged with the slaughter of an Iraqi family was diagnosed as a homicidal threat by a military mental health team three months before the attack.

    Pfc. Steven D. Green was found to have “homicidal ideations” after seeking help from an Army Combat Stress Team in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2005. Green said he was angry about the war, desperate to avenge the death of comrades and driven to kill Iraqi citizens, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.


  • 1watt

    1Watt, that is one of the most devastating articles I’ve read in a while. Jesus.

    Posted by: SusanUnPC

    Same thing back in ‘Nam, the most dangerous thing in the world is a 19 yr. old with a machine gun.

  • 1watt

    Rooting for your own country to lose (ala Kennedy, et. al); that’s another story.
    That’s treason. Just like in 1974.

    Posted by: graywolf

    as a ‘nam combat vet, i would like to say “you’re a total fucking git”. That is all.

  • lester

    yoou live on the moon? what else am i supposed to call someone who is afraid to fight when they are needed. People in Iraq are on their 3 deployment because you feel like staying home. You think that’s fair?

  • graywolf

    Keep foaming. It’s moonbat entertainment.

    I live where you can’t afford to go.

  • lester

    graywolf- you’re the whining little punk. how come you aren’t in Iraq. If I supported the war that’s where i’d be. you’re the traitor. you won’t fight for what you believe in. coward. where do you live?

  • graywolf

    The Dems have wanted another Viet Nam, so they could root against their own country.
    They are creating it (with the help of the woefully incompetent Bushies).

    To refuse to fund an action involving US forces – which they initially voted for- is typical of this treasonous scum.

    Kennedy and Durbin diaries on Daily Kos; that fits.
    Kos is a whining little punk.

    I think it was the correct decision that has been totally f***** up by Bush, Rumsfeld, Bremer, Rice and that whole bunch of navel-gazers.
    The Generals messed up too. Unwillingness to kill enough bad guys helped bring us to the current mess.

    You think going into Iraq was wrong. That’s all well and good. Honest difference of opinion.

    Rooting for your own country to lose (ala Kennedy, et. al); that’s another story.
    That’s treason. Just like in 1974.

  • Great points, Leslie. The Democrats will at the least have stood tall against Bush’s endless, ridiculous “Hail Marys” to save his presidency.

    1Watt, that is one of the most devastating articles I’ve read in a while. Jesus.

  • Leslie

    Oh, and as Balkinization points out, these bills will also show that the Democrats are willing to do more than just plead with Bush. They’re going to get tough. Everyone who voted for the Democrats needs to hear that a lot.

  • Leslie

    Signed Kennedy’s petition. Now if only Congress will pass Kennedy’s bill and Feingold’s, which would require redeployment. Even if both bills don’t pass, or Bush vetoes them [very likely], it will still send the Bush administration a much needed, strong message to stop this war. Plus it will delineate the difference between the Democrats and Bush for 2008.

  • 1watt

    Here is a clear example of why we need to get out now.

  • and I just saw that both Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Dick Durbin have diaries up at Daily Kos:

    Help me set the Senate’s agenda

    Escalation: It’s Not Up To Him

  • Keith Olbermann will be on this story tonight. From his newsletter:

    Ted Kennedy thinks George W. Bush is dead wrong on a troop surge for Iraq — and while some other Democrats have reacted diffidently, he is determined to force the issue. Today the Massachusetts senator will introduce legislation to prevent the president from increasing US troop levels in Iraq without specific authorization from Congress. And in a speech at the National Press Club one day before the president outlines his new Iraq plans to the nation, Kennedy will take aim at the idea of sending more troops.

    Bush to announce new Iraq plan Wednesday. Skeptical Democratic leaders taking steps to cut off funding for new troops.