Friday, January 12, 2007

About cutting off those war funds: beware the veto

The news is replete with stories about how the Democrats and some moderate Republicans are against Bush's "surge." And many articles also suggest that Congress might even be prepared to cut off funding for the military, or specific funding for that mission, in order to stop it.

This article, more detailed than most, explains some of the legal ramifications of such an act. It's certainly possible to do it, as evidenced by what Congress did during the 70s vis a vis Vietnam (see here for some of that history).

However, one rather large difference between Then and Now is the size of the support in Congress for such a tactic. Since any such cutoff of funds would of course be vetoed by President Bush, therefore its sponsors would need two-thirds support in Congress for an override.

If they don't have that, they might try it anyway, of course--just to get everyone on record as "pro" or "con" for use in the next election. But it would not be implemented; the vote would be an act of protest that would have no repercussions as far as funding itself (the only repercussions would probably be the satisfaction the enemy would feel in the knowledge that, once Bush is gone, they'd be relatively unopposed by a weary US).

In the 70s President Nixon, and then President Ford who followed him, were facing a Congress more strongly Democratic (and even more antiwar on the Republican side, as I recall) than Bush faces at the moment (see here for the history of the composition of the House, and here for the Senate). They knew that acts of such Congresses were practically veto-proof.

I've not noticed any head counts in present-day articles to indicate whether the votes are there for an override. My guess is that they are not. But I'd be interested on any information on that score.

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