0

Barbara Lee’s Iraq amendment gone from bill

I wrote a story back in March about how Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, co-authored a resolution barring President Bush from making major, long-term economic and military commitments to Iraq without consulting Congress first. Lee ended up having such language incorporated into the 2009 Defense Authorization Act as approved by the House in May.

But the Senate version didn’t pick up her language, and the House OK’ed that Senate version today on a 392-39 vote. Lee was among the nays, as were Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, while the rest of the Bay Area’s delegation voted for the bill.

Lee is not amused:

“When this Defense Authorization bill cleared the House last May, it included an amendment that I authored requiring congressional approval of any agreement negotiated between the President and the Government of Iraq which commits the United States to the defense and security of Iraq from internal and external threats. But because the White House threatened to veto the bill over this prudent and reasonable provision, the version of the bill returned to us from the Senate no longer includes that limitation. That is reason alone to oppose this bill, which I do.

“Supported by members of both parties, the LEE Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2009 easily passed the House of Representatives on May 22, 2008, by a vote of 234-183. Under the LEE Amendment, no provision contained in any Status of Forces Agreement or ‘SOFA’ negotiated between the President and the Government of Iraq which commits the United States to the defense and security of Iraq from internal and external threats would be valid unless that agreement has been authorized and approved by Congress.

“An agreement to commit American troops to the defense and security of another country is not routine or typical or minor. It is a major commitment that must have the support of the American people. And that popular can only be reflected by the Congress of the United States. That is why the LEE Amendment was necessary and was supported by a bipartisan majority of the House.

“I regret we have lost a valuable opportunity to bring much needed accountability and transparency to our relationship with Iraq.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.