Kennedy On Opposing Escalation: "Now is the time, this is the moment"

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by Bob Geiger

In a conference call with bloggers and activists Wednesday, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) spelled out his Senate bill to legislatively stop the Bush-McCain Doctrine of escalating the Iraq war, saying "we have to try to get this resolution done expeditiously" and urging his Senate colleagues to step up to the plate and speak out for the majority of Americans.

"Now is the time, this is the moment for Congressional action to begin to bring this war to an end," said Kennedy, on a call sponsored by a coalition of Progressive activist groups.

Kennedy has introduced legislation that would essentially nullify the original Iraq war resolution -- which he voted against in 2002 -- and declare it obsolete based on a review of the three main components of that measure.

"It said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- there were not," said Kennedy, adding also that the second provision, Saddam Hussein's violation of U.N. resolutions, is obviously "no longer applicable."

"There was [allegedly] an operational relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- that was dismissed in the 9/11 [Commission] report," said Kennedy.

"What my amendment does is it says you have to come back to the Congress to get authorization for increasing the manpower and increasing the resources that are going to be necessary to support that manpower -- and it will give the Congress of the United States an opportunity to vote yes or no on that resolution."

Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who has introduced similar legislation -- that does not rely on cutting off funding for the "troop surge" -- agrees entirely with Kennedy that the original war resolution is null and void, saying Wednesday that it "is no longer relevant in my view."

And, according to Kennedy, his legislation must be acted upon quickly because in the three months it will take to get a request for a "supplemental" appropriation for the war effort and have the Appropriations Committee process it, the troops will already be over there.

"The issue then is entirely different. The issue then is are we going to deny support for troops who have already been sent over there and are battling over there daily?" said Kennedy, in explaining his call for a prompt vote. "We have to try to get this resolution done expeditiously. And we're talking within a week or the next 10 days -- prior to the time that they start to send troops over."

Meanwhile, the White House says that Kennedy's bill is moot because they already have the money to pay for a troop escalation and thus do not need additional funds from Congress to move the plan forward.

Whether or not that's true, Kennedy's measure combines with Dodd's initiative and a non-binding, anti-surge resolution that also has the strong support of Chuck Hagel (R-NE), to send a message to Bush that a Democratic Congress officially ends the near monarchy he has enjoyed for the last few years.

Kennedy vows to keep pushing every day, saying that he won't give up and calling his vote against the war in 2002 "one of the best votes that I ever cast in the Senate."

And his Democratic colleague, Chris Dodd, could not agree more that this is a real gut-check for all Senators.

"This is not a time for Senators to simply declare our individual opposition to this plan. It is time that we accept our obligations and offer meaningful action to stop this proposal," said Dodd. "The president has laid down the gauntlet by just saying 'I'm going to go forward and I don't care what you say.' And it seems to me we have an obligation up here to respond to that. People look to us for leadership on these issues."

"There's a time for us to speak up and be heard and that hour is now."

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