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Breaking Another Iraq Taboo

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For the first time in the four-plus years since Congress authorized the Iraq war, Congress is having a serious debate about how we can fix the President's failed Iraq policy. Unfortunately, while there have been plenty of members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, voicing opposition to the President's plans for escalation, most of the plans being pushed will do nothing to end the catastrophe in Iraq.

Americans are not looking to Congress to pass symbolic measures, they are looking to us to stop the President's failed Iraq policy. That is why we must finally break this taboo that somehow Congress can't talk about using its power of the purse to end the war in Iraq. The Constitution makes Congress a co-equal branch of government. It's time we start acting like it. We have a moral responsibility, as well as a responsibility to the brave troops whose lives are on the line, to end the war. We can and must force the President to safely redeploy our troops so that we can get back to focusing on those who attacked us on 9/11.

Tomorrow, I will be chairing a full Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War." This hearing will help remind my colleagues in the Senate and the American public that Congress is not powerless - even when it acts that way. We have the power to stop the policies of a President that continue to hurt our national security. Soon after tomorrow's hearing, I will introduce legislation to do just that.

I want everyone to be clear on exactly what my proposal will do. The first and most important thing to know is that my plan does not cut funding for the troops. Our troops will continue to receive the salaries, equipment, training and protection they need. What I am proposing is ending funds for the continued deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after the enactment of the bill. This will require the President to safely redeploy troops from Iraq by that date. My bill does provide exceptions to allow for specific types of military missions within Iraq past the six-month deadline, such as targeted counter-terrorism efforts, the protection of American personnel and infrastructure, and a limited number of troops needed to help train Iraqi security forces. But these will be limited forces used for specific missions.

Suggestions that our troops will be left in the lurch couldn't be further from the truth. My proposal would bring the troops out of harm's way.

Congress has used this power several times before, most recently in Somalia and in Bosnia in the 1990s. Nevertheless, I'm sure the White House and others will resort to their usual intimidation tactics to try to paint this proposal as not supporting the troops. I'd like to hear from the President exactly how sending 21,500 more U.S. troops into a civil war supports them. We must not let this administration continue to intimidate like it did in the lead-up to war.

In August 2005, I became the first Senator to propose a timetable for the redeployment of our troops from Iraq. A timetable was considered taboo in Congress then, but it's clearly the position supported by the majority of this country. Now it is time to break another taboo - that Congress can't use its constitutional power to end funding for the war and bring our troops home safely. The catastrophe in Iraq is not the fault of our brave men and women in uniform, but rather the failed policies of this administration. Our troops and our national security should no longer be the ones to suffer for this Administration's terrible mistake.