- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

House lawmakers, in proposed changes to President Bush's request to use military force against Iraq, would require consultation with Congress and make the resolution subject to the War Powers Act.

The proposed alterations, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, would delete the president's request to use "means that he determines to be appropriate, including force." Instead, the resolution would authorize the president to use "all necessary and appropriate means, including force."

The revision is significant because lawmakers believe it would involve Congress in the decision-making instead of leaving the action to the discretion of the president, says a source close to the negotiations.

The proposal from House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, also would make the resolution subject to the War Powers Act in an effort to bring Democrats on board, a move that might cause trouble with conservatives.

Sources cautioned that the rewritten proposal is one of many circulating and is not necessarily the leading draft.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said talks with lawmakers have been "collegial and productive."

When the White House submitted the proposed resolution last week, Mr. Bush said it was only a draft and that he was willing to consider changes. He said he was confident Democrats would support him.

"I believe you'll see, as we work to get a strong resolution out of Congress, that a lot of Democrats are willing to take the lead when it comes to keeping the peace," he said yesterday.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, said some give and take was necessary to secure approval from both parties.

Mr. Hyde also added a section to the White House draft that would require the administration to give a progress report on Iraq to Congress at least every 60 days, a provision similar to part of the War Powers Act.

That 1973 act, the constitutionality of which the courts have never judged, requires the president to report to Congress within 48 hours whenever U.S. armed forces are sent "into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement of hostilities is clearly indicated." The president then has 60 days to end action by the forces unless Congress declares war, specifically authorizes the operation or extends the 60-day period.

Presidents have submitted more than 70 reports on U.S. troop commitments to Congress since the act was passed but have said they were doing so as a courtesy and not as a legal requirement. All presidents since Richard Nixon, along with many conservatives, have opposed the act as an infringement on the president's role as commander in chief of the armed forces.

The new proposal also seeks to make any action beyond Iraq a multinational effort, which is a concern of Republicans and Democrats alike.

Mr. Hyde's draft would delete the phrase about restoring peace in the region, but it would add a section authorizing the president to restore peace in the region pursuant to U.N. Security Council resolutions. That, sources said, would make clear that the United States could take military action outside Iraq only in conjunction with multinational forces.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he, too, was seeking language that would limit any U.S. action to Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said his party is pushing for language that would limit the possibility of the United States using force unilaterally.

Bill Sammon contributed to this report.


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