Town Hall Highlights: The Power of the Purse

Bill Scher

Below are excerpts from yesterday’s MoveOn.org Virtual Town Hall, regarding how Congress can use the power of the purse to end the war in Iraq.

From former Sen. John Edwards:

That funding authority’s still the most powerful check we have. If congress is willing to use it.

I propose we begin by capping funding levels at 100,000 troops to stop Bush’s escalation and force an immediate withdrawal of 40 to 50,000 troops which would come out of the north and the south of Iraq.

During that time, we should not allow Bush to deploy any replacement troops to Iraq that do not meet real readiness standards, and that have not been properly trained and equipped.

Our withdrawal will help us to directly engage the Iranians and the Syrians to help stabilize Iraq. The withdrawal of all combat troops should be completed in about a year.

From Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio:

…stop the funding and the occupation, withdraw the troops as you close the bases, create a parallel process which involves the United Nations, which is the only international organization to go to mobilize the (inaudible) to authorize peace-keeping troops, move those troops in, as our troops leave…

…we have to prepare to also have the simultaneous return of all US contractors, and as this is happening, you’ve got the UN moving in their peace-keeping and security force.

From Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.:

It’s the constitutional right of Congress to start a war and to stop a war … I am for a time table of withdrawal. I would be for a cut-off of appropriations.

What I would do, however, is one step further: this Congress several years ago, the Republican Congress, authorized this war. I would pass a Congressional resolution, de-authorizing the war based on the War Powers Act.

I served in Congress for 15 years. I believe this is the cleanest and quickest way to deal with this issue, otherwise we’re gonna be in endless debates, vetoes. I believe it’s important we proceed with cutting off funds and ending this war, but de-authorizing this war based on the War Powers Act, I believe, is the most important step.

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