WASHINGTON – Sen. Jim Webb,D-Va.,introduced legislation Monday that would prohibit the use of funds for military operations in Iran without congressional authorization.
“In my point of view,and in terms of the constitutional process,absent a direct attack or a clearly imminent threat,the place for that debate is here in the open forum of the Congress,not in some closed-door meetings at the White House,” Webb said.
He said he hopes members of both parties will read his amendment. If they are concerned about power abuse by the executive branch,he said his bill will have substantial support from Democrats as well as Republicans.
In preparing the bill,he said he ensured it will not in any way prevent U.S. military forces from carrying out their tactical responsibilities in places such as Iraq and in the international waters off Iran's coast. It also allows forces to respond directly to attacks that might be initiated from Iran.
“Despite its new-found level of influence in Iraq,it is not in Iran's best interest to see Iraq disintegrate into anarchy,” Webb said. “Iran also has its challenges with its own sectarian groups,not the least of which are the Kurds.”
Webb said the U.S. should never underestimate the potential that Iran might act irresponsibly but at the same time he reminded reporters of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan when Iran was ready to cooperate under certain circumstances.
He said the U.S. has enough signals from Iran over the past years that provide chances for peaceful negotiations. He stressed,”My hope is that we could calm this down.”
With the belief that the American people will support his bill,Webb accused the administration of recklessly choosing military option again,which he said never matches the creative diplomatic patterns.
The Bush administration said last week it will attend a meeting of Iraq and its neighbors,including Iran,that starts Saturday. Previously,it said it would not meet with Iran until the country suspended its nuclear program.
“Mr. President,it is my hope that we can take up this necessary legislation,” Webb said. He said it could be a separate bill or an amendment to the 2007 supplemental appropriation,which Congress will consider in the next few weeks.