Congress After President’s Iraq Briefing: We’re a Joke

Anything and everything we do about Iraq using our military is entirely in the hands of President Barack Obama. Congress has been told they have nothing to say about it and Congress seems to believe it.

From Roll Call:

President Barack Obama is still considering what to do about Iraq, but he told the top congressional leaders Wednesday that he doesn’t think he needs Congress’ permission to act.

“We had a good discussion,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arriving back at the Capitol after the meeting. “The president basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take and indicated he would keep us posted.”

It would be nice if Obama meant that he had no intention of getting the U.S. involved so he didn’t need to consult Congress. But that is not his point.

Obama met for about an hour in the Oval Office with McConnell, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Pelosi told reporters that she agreed that the president has all of the authorities that he needs in the authorizations to use military force passed by Congress previously.

“All of the authorities are there. That doesn’t mean I want all of them to be used, especially boots on the ground,” she said. “But I definitely think the president has all of the authority he needs by dint of legislation that was passed in 2001 and 2003.”

So, as far as Nancy Pelosi is concerned, Barack Obama has been vested with authority to commit us to a ground war or not, all on the basis of a decision made by Congress over a decade ago.

She appeared to be referring to the authorizations to use military force passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq. Neither of those authorizations has expired, although the official White House position is that the Iraq authorization should be repealed.

They shouldn’t need to be repealed. They should have expired. This is an entirely different situation from 2002. It is a mockery of the Constitution giving Congress the authority to declare war if these authorizations are unending.

This reminds me of former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta denying that Congress was involved in a decision about whether or not to go to war.

Of course, I suspect that many in Congress want the President to act so that they can feel free to deny that they had anything to do with it if his decision becomes unpopular.