The House readies to sweep away residue from two centuries of war

The House readies to sweep away residue from two centuries of war

The House is in, well, house-cleaning mode this week, dealing with clutter and outmoded bits and pieces lying around. They’re kicking it off Tuesday by getting rid of the insurrectionist relics from the last two centuries. They will vote on a measure to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol, as well as a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision back in 1857 denying citizenship to Black people. In its place, they would install a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the Democratic whip from South Carolina, was blunt about what this vote means after Jan. 6. “On January 6th, we experienced the divisiveness of Confederate battle flags being flown inside the U.S. Capitol,” Clyburn said in a statement. “Yet there are still vestiges that remain in this sacred building that glorify people and a movement that embraced that flag and sought to divide and destroy our great country. This legislation will remove these commemorations from places of honor and demonstrate that as Americans we do not celebrate those who seek to divide us.”

They can get rid of the inanimate vestiges, but they’re still going to have to deal with the living insurrectionists serving now in the Congress. The legislation to create a select committee House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is introducing could potentially help take care of that. Or at least expose the degree to which any member of Congress—House or Senate—was involved in the insurrection.

This sets up the Senate to prove once again how entrenched in Jim Crow it’s going to remain, as the measure will require a 60-vote margin there. It will be instructive to see what Jan. 6 did to House Republicans, as well. Last year, 72 Republicans voted with Democrats to send confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and white supremacists North Carolina Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock and Arkansas Sen. James Paul Clarke back to the states that donated them. The Senate didn’t bother to vote on it last year because McConnell wasn’t doing legislation. He had too many Trump judges to get confirmed.

The House is also going to deal with some 20th century warmongering, expected to approve a pair of bills Tuesday that will repeal authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) from the 1991 Persian Gulf War and a broader Middle East AUMF from 1957 that sought to save the region from the communist threat. Yes, a cold war authorization that is 64 years old is still nominally in effect. This follows votes from a few weeks ago repealing the 2002 Iraq War authorization. Yes, the huge mistake of Congress allowing George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to wage a manufactured war based on lies has stuck around for nearly 20 years.

Which again takes us to the Senate, where President Biden’s decision to make airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria over the weekend complicates the issue. Some in Congress are definitely in a mood to reclaim war powers.

“There is no doubt that President Biden possesses the ability to defend our forces abroad, and I continue to trust inherently the national security instincts of this White House,” Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy said in a statement. Here’s the “but” in that construct: “My concern is that the pace of activity directed at U.S. forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act.” That means one thing: “Both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come to Congress for a war declaration under these circumstances.”

Which Biden did not do. The Pentagon did not cite any of the rusty old AUMFs for the basis for these latest strikes or those back in February, but instead used the president’s Article II powers to defend U.S. personnel overseas. “The president takes legal authority and justification for military action quite seriously,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “And certainly, we consult our legal teams to ensure we have that justification. And we certainly feel confident we do.”

The repeal of these ancient AUMFs, however, is no done deal in the Senate. Republicans, being Republicans, remain gung-ho on the idea of military action and are fine with ceding war power to the executive branch—even for a Democratic president. Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe of Oklahoma confirmed that: “I believe these actions [the airstrikes] are overdue and highlight the continued need for the 2002 AUMF, or—at a minimum—the need for a comprehensive replacement before a repeal can be considered, especially given that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are an ongoing threat to American troops.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the repeal of the 2002 and 1991 AUMFs in a hearing in July.  Chair Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said he would be “seeking more information from the administration in the coming days regarding what specifically predicated these strikes, any imminent threats they believed they were acting against, and more details on the legal authority the administration relied upon.”

“Congress has the power to authorize the use of military force and declarations of war, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning to hear from the administration more on these strikes as well as have a broader discussion on the 2002 AUMF when we return to Washington, D.C.,” Menendez said in his statement.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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