Punting Power

This is pure BS:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told This Week he’d “bring the Congress back” to vote on a new resolution authorizing military force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but only if President Barack Obama requested one. Congress has received heaps of criticism for staying out of town during the airstrikes against ISIS, with some suggesting they’re happy to avoid a contentious vote on the issue.

Boehner reprised his line that typically the president initiated the resolution, a position of faux-politesse that the Daily Show already mocked last week. This led George Sephanopoulos [sic] to wonder if Boehner was avoiding the vote because it might split his party ahead of the midterms, something he said was whispered to ABC News political reporter Jeff Zeleny.

Boehner further opines that the existing AUMF is enough for Obama to act on.

One of the reasons Barack Obama has been allowed to usurp so much power is because Congress has allowed him to. Almost all legislative powers reside with Congress, yet they stand around while he rules by executive order, rewrites the laws to his purpose and starts wars on his own. The war-making power lies with Congress. Yet, for the second time, they are allowing the President to start bombing another country. Yes, the President is supposed to ask for their authorization. But they are supposed to assert their authority on this. They should be meeting right now either to give the President the authority to attack Syria or to refuse it. And if he won’t comply, they can exercise the power of the purse to cut the funding.

Stephanopoulos sideswipes the issue by noting this would potentially split the Republican Party. There is a significant fraction that would oppose this but they are still a small minority. The real issue is that the Republicans — like everyone else — have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, ISIS is horrific: a radical Islamist regime that is imposing severe sharia over the regions they control, murdering ethnic and religious minorities and spreading terror over the region. On the other hand, do we really need another boondoggle in the Middle East? Do we really want to spend the treasure and lives needed, even assuming we can destroy ISIS?

It’s a hard debate. I can see why Congress wants to avoid it. But having hard debates is part of their fucking job description. The Civil Rights debate was hard too. So was the Vietnam War. Balancing the budget in the 90’s was hard. But those Congresses argued, debated and eventually voted. They did their job. And they were held responsible for it, a nation that terrifies our current leaders.

This is pure cowardice. It’s the same cowardice the Congress showed in 2003 when, rather than declare war on Iraq, they punted that authority to the President. They didn’t want to oppose it. But they didn’t want to take responsibility if it went wrong. And sure enough, when it went wrong, the Democrats said, “Well, we didn’t declare war on Iraq; we left that decision to Bush!”

Make a decision, guys. Have the debate. We’re dropping bombs on two countries and have over four hundred boots on the ground. If this goes wrong, it’s still on you for failing to stop it. Get your lazy asses back to Washington and do your damned job.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    Actually making decisions isn’t a good thing during a close-term election cycle. Best to shut up until the morning AFTER that Tuesday in November.

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    Actually making decisions isn’t a good thing during a close-term election cycle. Best to shut up until the morning AFTER that Tuesday in November.

    This is what we’re told. But there’s always an election coming up. And lots of congressmen have lost their seats by making hard choices. Are they there to do things or are they there to be re-elected? I think we know the answer.

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  3. Section8

    They should be meeting right now either to give the President the authority to attack Syria or to refuse it. And if he won’t comply, they can exercise the power of the purse to cut the funding.

    Hey didn’t they try that on other items? Hmmm let me think. Yeah how did that go? Who backed ‘em? You?

    Maybe it’s not the President that’s all fucked up (even though I think he is), nor Congress. Maybe just maybe it’s people who bitch and complain over and over again, but will run for the hills as soon as someone in Congress takes a stand on that very issue people were just complaining about. Taking a stand causes tension, you have to force the hand of the other party in the mix which requires holding something hostage, whether it’s the budget, a vote on another important item, or something else of at least perceived urgent importance. That method of negotiation is even more important when you’re in the minority of power. The American people don’t have the stomach for it. You don’t have the stomach for it. Let’s be honest here. Every Goddamn time someone has stood up in the last 6 years they’ve been ridiculed. This time Boehner did exactly what he should have to keep those conservatives that say do something to stop him but don’t from being really unhappy. Yawn.

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