2007-12-14 / Community

Clinton:Congressional Approval For Iraq Commitments

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has continued to express grave concern about the implications of President Bush's recently signed Declaration of Principles for a Long-term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship with Iraq. Senator Clinton introduced legislation today that requires the President to seek Congressional approval for any agreement that would extend the U.S. military commitment to Iraq. She also joined a number of other Senators in a letter warning the President against rushing the United States into longterm security commitments to the Iraqi government and urging him to seek Congressional consent. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Jim Webb (D-VA) also signed the letter to President Bush.

"The Bush Administration must not circumvent Congress on the critical issue of the future U.S. presence in Iraq. The Administration must not be permitted to enter into agreements that could lead to permanent bases in Iraq which would damage U.S. interests in Iraq and the broader region without Congressional approval," said Senator Clinton.

Last week, the Bush administration announced the Declaration of Principles for a Long-term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship with Iraq, an agreement to start formal negotiations with Iraq about a long-term security pact between the United States and Iraq. The Declaration sets a goal of concluding this final agreement by July 31, 2008.

On November 27, Senator Clinton wrote President Bush to advise him that this agreement must not commit the United States to permanent bases in Iraq, and must include a commitment to the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. Today she followed up with a second letter and the legislation that would require the President to seek Congressional approval for security agreements with Iraq.

The legislation requires:

No funds may be authorized or appropriated to carry out any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq involving "commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole," including a status of forces agreement (SOFA), that is not a treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate under Article II of the Constitution or authorized by legislation passed by both Houses of Congress.

The State Department Legal Advisor must provide to the Congress a memorandum evaluating the President's decision to deny Congress its constitutionally protected role by concluding an agreement on the future of the U.S.- Iraqi security relationship as an executive agreement without the assent of the Congress. The memorandum must include an analysis of the Constitutional powers relied on by the President in reaching the conclusion that such an agreement does not require approval by the Congress.

It is the sense of Congress that any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq involving "commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole", including a status of forces agreement (SOFA), that is not a treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate under Article II of the Constitution or authorized by legislation, does not have the force of law.

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