Larry Kerschner Writes



   The Democratic Party will have a majority in the new Congress starting in January 2007.  The Democrats talk about an ambitious domestic agenda for the first 100 hours of the new Congress.  They have plans for increased funding in health care and education.  The problem is that the Iraq war sucks up so much money there is little left for the people of the United States.  Since the September 11, 2001 attack the Congress has voted to authorize $448 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  On September 30, 2006 the House of Representatives voted to approve another $70 billion for the war with only 23 Democrats voting against the appropriation.  The Senate passed the bill 100-0. 

     John C. Yoo, currently a professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law is known for his work from 2001 to 2003 in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.  He wrote controversial memos in which he advocated the legality of torture and that enemy combatants be denied protection under the Geneva Conventions.  He argued that the Constitution gives the President the power to start and control wars.  He argues that Congress is the principal check to this executive power through its power to raise armies and to spend money to support them.  Yoo argues that if the President starts a war Congress does not approve of, Congress can exercise its constitutional check by cutting off funds for the conflict.  I do not believe Mr. Yoo is correct in his legal arguments but cutting off the funds seems an effective approach to control an out of control administration.

    In 1999 twenty-six members of Congress sued President Clinton in Campbell vs Clinton for continuing to prosecute the war against Serbia without a formal declaration of war by Congress.  The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the administration.  The Court found that by appropriating funds Congress implicitly consented to the President's use of war powers.  This clearly shows that despite any anti-war rhetoric that may spew from the lips of Congress as long as they appropriate funds they want to continue the war in Iraq.  A new Supplemental Appropriations bill, estimated at $130 billions, will be voted on in the Spring of 2007.

     Congress must cut off all funds by not passing the upcoming Supplemental Appropriations bill. If they pass even a reduced funding bill they allow the President to legally continue the war.  Instead the Congress needs to be convinced to pass a bill that specifically cuts all funding related to the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq.  It should not restrict or prohibit any non-Defense Department funding for social and economic reconstruction of Iraq.  The $70 billion recently appropriated should be more than enough to provide for the safe withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.  It is clear that whether you support or oppose Bush the key to ending the war is to cut off funds.