The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a symbolic resolution that calls for the executive branch to attain explicit approval from Congress before deploying troops to Iraq in a “sustained combat role,” in what peace campaigners are heralding as an important milestone in efforts to prevent a new war.
H. Con. Resolution 105, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D – Mass.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D – Calif.), and Walter Jones (R – N.C.), passed 370-40. Three Democrats and 37 Republicans voted against and 190 Democrats and 180 Republicans voted in favor. The resolution will next head to the Senate.
“Finally some people in Washington are listening to the public,” Jovanni Reyes of Iraq Veterans Against the War—which mobilized to support the resolution—told Common Dreams. “Back in 2003 the public said a big ‘no’ to going to Iraq, but they were ignored. Now it’s over 4,000 dead service members, over one million dead Iraqis, and trillions of dollars later.”
While the resolution is non-binding, supporters say it will have a significant political impact. “This strong vote sends a message from Congress that reflects an American public that doesn’t want to get back involved,” Stephen Miles of Win Without War told Common Dreams. “We hope the president will listen to that and resist people like Dick Cheney who are re-emerging to say we want to do this all over again.”
Miles said that the resolution passed thanks in part to call-in efforts from opponents of U.S. escalation, backed by dozens of anti-war groups. “Over the last 48 hours, several thousand calls were made, and since the crisis in Iraq heated back up, anti-war groups have made well over 20,000 calls to Congress and sent more emails saying no escalations,” said Miles. “Every report we heard from a member of Congress was not only that they received a number of calls, but that an overwhelming proportion were opposed to force.”
Polling suggests these numbers reflect U.S. public opinion. A survey released in June by Public Policy Polling found that 74 percent of people in the U.S. is opposed to deploying combat troops to Iraq.
“Enough is enough. After more than decade of war, the American people are war-weary,” said Congresswoman Lee in a statement about the resolution’s passage.
The resolution’s backers, however, note that there is still much more work left to do. The resolution likely will not affect the 800 U.S. military service members currently deployed to Iraq—hundreds of whom are directly aiding the intelligence and military operations of the Iraqi government, in what critics charge is a direct U.S. hand in climbing escalation. Furthermore, the U.S. continues to send weapons and money to the Iraqi government, despite their documented bombing of civilian areas in their military operations against ISIS.
“This resolution is a step in the right direction but Congress needs to repeal the AUMFs that serve as a blank check for endless war,” said Lee, referring to post-9/11 legislation authorizing open-ended military force.
According to Matt Howard of Iraq Veterans Against the War, “Although we know that this is far too little and what we really need is full withdrawal and a pursuit of remediation of damages caused by our occupation of Iraq, [the resolution] at least represents a shift in Congress caused in no small part by people who have had enough.”