“Shock and Awe”: Marking the Anniversary of GWB’s “Special Military Operation”

March 16th, 2023 - by Joan McCarter / Daily Kos Staff

One Big Thing Congress Could Accomplish Soon:
Officially Declaring an End to the Iraq Wa

Joan McCarter / Daily Kos Staff

(March 15, 2023) — In some long-overdue housekeeping, the Senate is going to vote to rescind decades-old Gulf and Iraq War resolutions. That should happen by the end of next week, if the usual GOP suspects (like Rand Paul and Tom Cotton) don’t delay it with amendment demands.

Congress has finally come to a bipartisan and bicameral agreement to say that the authorizations for President George H.W. Bush and his kid, George W. Bush, to go to war in 1991 and again in 2002 should be revoked.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bipartisan bill last week, 13–8. Yes, there are eight senators who want to keep those war authorizations handy, because you never know when you’re going to need to exploit the hostilities on a résumé somewhere down the line.

Which is precisely why the 13 senators in favor want it shut down. “Congress has a constitutional and moral responsibility to repeal them so that future presidents can’t use these authorizations as a blank check to send servicemembers into harm’s way,” bill sponsor Sen. Tim Kaine said in a statement. The House passed a repeal last year in a bipartisan vote, but it ended up getting back-burnered into not happening on the Senate side. This is one thing that could actually happen, even with the House now being what the House is.

The math in the Senate for passing that (and anything for the next few weeks) is going to be slightly interesting. There are two Democrats out for an undetermined time: Sen. John Fetterman is still out receiving treatment for clinical depression and Sen. Dianne Feinstein is recovering at home in California following a hospitalization for shingles.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has left the hospital for a week or two of inpatient rehab at a nursing home after his fall last Wednesday evening. McConnell suffered both a concussion and a fractured rib in the fall, but the six-day hospital stay and now an inpatient rehab stint suggest his injuries, or the effects from them, might be more extensive.

There are, however, at least 12 GOP votes in favor of declaring these wars done when it comes to a cloture vote on Thursday. In the absence of McConnell, Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) is planning to “push our members to at least make sure that on a bill of this consequence that we have an opportunity to get at least a few amendment votes on it.” But that won’t happen this week with the vote to bring the bill to the floor for debate.

Over on the other side of the Hill, there’s nothing happening legislatively for at least a week since the House is on recess. That means no committee work on a budget, for example. The one main thing that the House is responsible for — allocating and spending treasury resources — is still out of reach as Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy has serious and interrelated math problems.

The first problem is his tiny majority. He has less than half a dozen votes to play with to get anything passed. His second problem is the promise he made to the Freedom Caucus that House Republicans would balance the budget in 10 years without touching Social Security, Medicare, or defense in order to finally secure their votes to make him speaker. By anyone’s accounting, that is impossible. Suffice to say there’s probably not going to be a budget coming from the House side any time soon.

So what they’re going to focus on is messaging bills that would undo everything that President Joe Biden and Democrats have accomplished in two years. The Freedom Caucus maniacs who are running McCarthy’s show made that clear in their list of demands for raising the debt ceiling.

The “serious” lawmakers on the GOP side are really no better. Majority Leader Steve Scalise, for example, is spearheading what they’re calling an energy package that would undo a lot of the Inflation Reduction Act climate change advances and instead go all-in on fossil fuels.

Their primary aim in this bill seems to be making Sen. Joe Manchin even more of a headache for Senate Democrats and Biden, throwing him a lot of bones to take up in his Energy and Natural Resources committee (which he has no business chairing). The House GOP certainly can’t imagine it will become law, so instead of legislating, they’ll troll.

Maybe they hope that if they can get that to the floor, no one will notice that a bunch of the stuff they promised to do in the first week — an anti-immigration bill, a forced birth bill, criminal justice “reform” — still hasn’t made it to the agenda.

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