New Bills Challenge President Bush's Troop "Surge"

In a nationally televised address Wednesday night, President Bush announced a new plan to send 21,500 more American troops into Iraq to help settle the country’s increasing violence, particularly in the capital city of Baghdad. While Bush expressed confidence in his plan, most Americans did not appear to follow. A CNN poll taken after the speech found that 66% opposed this “surge” in troop levels, while only 32% supported it.

Opposition to Bush's plan is also widespread amongst Democrats and more than a few Republicans. Days before Bush announced his intentions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent him a letter expressing their opposition to any increase in troops in Iraq. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) then turned that opposition into action, introducing legislation saying no additional troops could be sent and no additional dollars spent on an escalation in Iraq "unless and until" Congress approves the plan. Kennedy argued that the original resolution permitting President Bush to use military force in Iraq has expired because it only authorized military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power for his (alleged) possession of weapons of mass destruction.

While Kennedy's bill has collected six cosponsors, it faces opposition from members of both parties. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), a Republican who began to denounce the war in late 2006, said he was "uncomfortable" with threatening to use Congress's power of the purse with regards to the war. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Joe Biden (D-Del.), whose panel has jurisdiction over the bill, said that it would be unconstitutional for Congress to cap troop levels or cut funding for specific items regarding a war that it approved. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a supporter of Bush's plan, disagreed, saying that it is most definitely within the rights of Congress to cut funding for the war. He added, however, that "those who were the proponents of it (cutting funding) then assume the consequences of failure."

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A House version of Kennedy's bill, sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), has been introduced and currently has twelve cosponsors.

For more details and continuing updates, see Congresspedia's page on congressional efforts to restrict funding for the Iraq War. Also, remember that Congresspedia is a wiki, so feel free to add details as they emerge!