To this point the only organized expressions of Congressional opinion have occurred in the House.Rep. Barbara Lee has taken the lead on this.
Last month, when the House of Representatives was deliberating on the FY 2015 Defense Appropriations Bill, she offered two amendments aimed at preventing US military intervention in Iraq. While both amendments were defeated, they gained significant support:
Rejected 165-250 Lee (D-CA) amendment to prohibit the use of funds to be used for the purposes of conducting combat operations in Iraq.
Rejected 182-231 Lee (D-CA) amendment to prohibit use of funds to be obligated or expended pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
More recently, Rep. Lee joined with Republican Representative Scott Rigell in circulating a letter to the President encouraging diplomacy and insisting that any use of military force must be debated and authorized by Congress. Eighty members of Congress have signed on. This letter is now re-opened for signers.
See list of signatories and text below:
Dear Mr. President:
We join you and with those in the international community who are expressing grave concern over the rise in sectarian violence in Iraq over the last days and weeks. The consequences of this development are particularly troubling given the extraordinary loss of American lives and expenditure of funds over ten years that was claimed to be necessary to bring democracy, stability and a respect for human rights to Iraq.
We support your restraint to date in resisting the calls for a “quick” and “easy” military intervention, and for your commitment not to send combat troops back to Iraq. We also appreciate your acknowledgement that this conflict requires a political solution, and that military action alone cannot successfully lead to a resolution.
We do not believe any such intervention could be either quick or easy. And, we doubt it would be effective in meeting either humanitarian or strategic goals, and we are certain that it could very well be counter-productive. This is a moment for urgent consultations and engagement with all parties in the region who could bring about a cease fire and launch a dialogue that could lead to a reconciliation of the conflict that is spreading like a conflagration through the region.
Any solution to this complex political crisis can only be achieved through such an effort, and nothing short of that can successfully bring stability to Iraq or the region and only if the process and outcome is inclusive of all segments of the Iraqi population.
As you consider options for U.S. intervention, we write to urge respect for the constitutional requirements for using force abroad. The Constitution vests in Congress the power and responsibility to authorize offensive military action abroad.
The use of military force in Iraq is something the Congress should fully debate and authorize. Members of Congress must consider all the facts and alternatives before we can determine whether military action would contribute to ending this most recent violence, create a climate for political stability, and protect civilians from greater harm.
We stand ready to work with you to this end.
John J. Duncan Jr.
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr.
Joseph P. Kennedy III
Ann McLane Kuster
John. B. Larson
Sheila Jackson Lee
James P. Moran
Richard P. Nolan
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Scott E. Rigell
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott