Fiscal 2008 Defense authorization (H.R. 1585); Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) amendment to prohibit the Bush administration from planning a contingency military operation in Iran/On adoption of the amendment
house Roll Call 364 May 16, 2007
This vote was on an amendment to legislation authorizing $648.6 billion for the Defense Department for fiscal 2008 that would prohibit the Bush administration from using funds in the bill intended to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to plan military operations in Iran. The language was proposed by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.).
President Bush threatened to veto the legislation if the amendment was included.
Andrews said that while he believed it was in the "interest of freedom-loving people around the world to deny the present regime in Tehran access to a nuclear weapon," he also said his amendment did not limit the United State's ability to deal with that potential problem.
"The amendment I submit raises the issue of the propriety of this coequal branch of our government asserting its proper constitutional authority," Andrews continued. What he was trying to avoid, he said, was military gaming for a conflict with Iran using funds appropriated for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The Constitution vests us, as the duly elected representatives of the people, with the authority and responsibility to decide when this country will initiate hostilities in order to serve our national interest absent an emergency or a self-defense situation," Andrews added.
"This amendment preserves that emergency authority of the President. It preserves the self-defense authority of the President. But it properly asserts the duly assigned constitutional role of this branch to decide the circumstances under which we should go forward with a major contingency operation," Andrews concluded.
Republicans opposed the amendment on the grounds that it inhibited the president's ability to conduct operations in Iraq to defend U.S. interests in that country. Republicans repeated assertions by the administration that Iranian troops have helped the insurgents fight American forces in Iraq.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said that U.S. military commanders have reported that Iran has participated in moving weapons that have been used against U.S. troops.
"The idea that we are saying that in this piece of the budget we cannot plan for interdiction of those items, of those weapons that are moving across the border, that we can't plan, for example, for Special Forces operations that we might need to implement or to move into action, to preempt this movement of deadly devices across the border, that we can't plan to extract hostages if they should be taken by Iranian militia or Iranian members of the armed forces is just not practical and it's not reasonable," Hunter continued.
Democrats were unable to secure enough support from within their own ranks for the amendment. Although six Republicans supported the language, it was not enough to offset the defection by 29 Democrats. Thus, by a vote of 202 to 216, the House rejected an amendment to the fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill that would have prohibited the administration from using monies in the bill intended to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to plan for a military conflict with Iran, and the legislation proceeded without the language.
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