Leahy calls war resolution a ‘blank check’

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy urged his colleagues in the Senate on Wednesday to reject a plan to give President Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq. Leahy says the proposal represents an abdication of power by the Congress because it gives the President “a blank check” to take any action Bush deems necessary.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The United States Senate is in the middle of a lengthy debate over a resolution that authorizes the Bush administration to use military force against Iraq. During the course of debate, virtually every senator is expected to voice their opinion on this issue.

On Tuesday, Senator James Jeffords announced his strong opposition to the Bush plan on the Senate floor, and on Wednesday in a 20 minute speech, Senator Patrick Leahy also criticized the president’s plan:

(Leahy) “This resolution, like others before it, does not declare anything. It tells the president, ‘Um, why don’t you decide? We’re not going to.’ This resolution, when you get through the pages of whereas clauses, is nothing more than a blank check. This Vermonter does not sign blank checks.”

(Kinzel) Leahy also argued that the president has not presented credible evidence to the Congress that Iraq poses a clear and imminent threat to the security of the United States:

(Leahy) “They haven’t seen that evidence and Madame President neither have I. We’ve heard a lot of bellicose rhetoric, but where are the facts? I’m not asking for 100% proof, but the administration is asking Congress to make a decision to go to war based on conflicting statements, angry assertions and assumptions based on speculation. This is not the way a great nation goes to war.”

(Kinzel) Leahy says the United States will be making a grave mistake if the administration takes military action against Iraq without the support of U.N. Security Council.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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