A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives resumes work Thursday on a resolution to authorize military action against Iraq. The resolution introduced in the House and Senate gives President Bush the authority he asked for, but also places some requirements on him.
House lawmakers are now guiding the resolution through committee. With Congress scheduled to adjourn October 11 for mid-term elections, lawmakers are aiming for full debate and final votes next week.
The first hearing began (late Wednesday) in the House International Relations Committee. New York Republican Benjamin Gilman said the consequences of not acting against Saddam Hussein are too great. "Saddam's continued breaches of these [U.N.] resolutions constitute a real threat to our nation, and to other nations in that region, and to our interests in that part of the world, a threat we must no longer ignore," he said.
Others, Democrats and Republicans, echoed Mr.Gilman, expressing support for eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and if necessary, removing Saddam Hussein.
However, many remain worried about the impact in the region, and on the U.S. economy, of potential war with Iraq. Congressman Robert Menendez of New Jersey says he has seen no clear evidence Iraq poses a direct threat to the United States. "I am seriously troubled by the administration's inability, whether in public or in private, to give this Congress and the American people what is the 'causus belli' here, what is the compelling reason, why now, this time, this moment, the United States may be very well unilaterally should go to war in Iraq," he said.
The House committee is expected to vote on the resolution Thursday. Many lawmakers intend to put forward amendments.
The hearing was interrupted by protesters, who shouted "No War with Iraq", before police escorted them out of the committee room.
Earlier Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans appeared with President Bush at the White House. Key lawmakers stressed the importance of placing U.S. national security over politics. House minority leader Richard Gephardt. "This is the most important thing that we do," said Richard Gephardt. "This should not be about politics. We have to do what is right for the security of our nation and the safety of all Americans."
In the Senate, Democratic majority leader Tom Daschle was still expressing concern about the resolution.
An alternative resolution put forward by Democrat Joseph Biden and Republican Richard Lugar would have narrowed presidential authority. They vowed to present it as an amendment.
The proposed Iraq resolution gives President Bush authority to use military force. But he is required to report before any military strike, if feasible, or within 48 hours of a U.S. attack that diplomatic and other peaceful means failed.
The President must also report to Congress every 60 days on what it calls matters relevant to the confrontation with Iraq.