Thursday, May 17, 2007

Congress gives away its war powers. Again.

Apparently 100 House Democrats believe that any president, even the one we have now, should have the ability to start a war at his/her whim. Last night the "first branch" passed up another chance to re-assert the constitutional powers that they've been gradually ceding to the executive over the last fifty years: Rep. DeFazio's amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have forbidden any attack on Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

It wasn't even close. 136-288, with 100 Democrats voting against, including Van Hollen, Hoyer, Emanuel, netroots-beloved P. Murphy and Sestak, and {sigh} even Carol Shea-Porter. Speaker Pelosi was one of 12 not voting. Roll call here.

Congress has built up such a long record of declining to exercise its war powers that a Supreme Court justice -- even an "originalist" -- would be hard pressed to rule in Congress' favor if by some chance they objected to a military strike ordered by Bush. The only thing that can prevent more wars of aggression is political pressure, as Jonathan Schwarz concludes in a cogent review of the issue in Mother Jones.

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