President Bush announced in the Rose Garden yesterday that he’s reached agreement with the House on the wording of a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. He was flanked by a boatload of congressmen and senators from both parties, with the conspicuous absence of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). The President slightly softened his position on military action, saying only that it “may be inevitable.” The New York Times has text of the resolution. The Senate is still divided, and debates are likely to begin next week.
The House resolution mentions the war on terrorism specifically, as well as Iraq’s violations on UN Security Council resolutions. It specifically authorizes the use of force under the War Powers Act for the purposes of defending the security of the United States and enforcing UN resolutions.
The Washington Post has the Senate opposition fighting a losing battle. The alternative Biden-Lugar resolution, which emphasizes UN cooperation and more limited authorization, is likely to get bogged down in amendements. WaPo describes Daschle cancelling a planned press conference on news of the agreement.
ABC News puts high up that Bush finally agreed to certify that political and diplomatic alternatives had been exhausted before any military option is used. He has to make that report within 48 hours of any military action. ABC also has Daschle conceding that the resolution was an “improvement,” but not yet completely satisfactory. Interestingly, ABC describes Daschle as not being invited to the Rose Garden ceremony.
The New York Times coverage included an succinct summary of the difference between the White House/House resolution and the Biden-Lugar alternative:
The major difference between the two resolutions is that the version agreed upon by the House and the president today authorizes Mr. Bush to use force to enforce “all relevant” United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, leaving the White House free to determine what is relevant. In contrast, the Biden-Lugar language specifies that force is authorized to secure the destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile program or to defend the United States and its allies against those programs.
The NY Times also has a piece on the ramifications of House Minority Leader [redacted] Gephardt’s endorsement of the White House resolution. The end result is a huge schism in the Democratic party, possibly setting the stage for a presidential run for Gephardt in 2004.
MSNBC picks up on the flagging support for the alternative resolution, with Senator Joe Biden (D-Del) conceding that the Senate will probably follow the House: “I’m a realist.”
The BBC focuses on the fact that the resolution still allows the President to use force unilaterally if he does not gain approval from the UN.
CNN provides a summary of the resolution:
The bipartisan resolution includes language:
- Supporting the president’s effort to get a new resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council.
- Limiting the use of U.S. military force against Iraq, and the scope of any military operation to dealing with “current ongoing threats posed by Iraq” and to forcing compliance with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions
- Requiring Bush to make a determination to Congress prior to ordering military action that further diplomacy will not succeed in bringing Iraq into compliance
- Requiring Bush to make a determination that using military force against Iraq is consistent with and will not detract from the ongoing effort to take action against terrorists and terrorist organizations
- Requiring regular consulting and reporting to the Congress
- Requiring the White House, consistent with the War Powers Act, to report to Congress every 60 days on military operations and planning for “post-military” operations including any plans for peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.