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House Republicans, Committee Central
Updated October 15, 2002

Congressional Resolution Authorizing Force Against Iraq


Summary

H.J.Res. 114 authorizes the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.  The resolution expresses support for the President's efforts to: (1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq; and (2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion, and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

The bill authorizes the President to use the U.S. armed forces to: (1) defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.  It also directs the President, prior to or as soon as possible (but no later than 48 hours) after exercising such authority, to make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that: (1) reliance on further diplomatic or peaceful means alone will not achieve the above purposes; and (2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Furthermore, the resolution declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization for use of the armed forces, consistent with requirements of the War Powers Resolution.  Finally, the bill requires the President to report to Congress at least every 60 days on matters relevant to this resolution.

Background

In 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq.  After the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism. 

The efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated.  Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the ceasefire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998.  In 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in ‘‘material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’’ and urged the President ‘‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’’ (P.L. 105–235).  Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.

Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait.  The current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people.  Additionally, the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.  Furthermore, members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.  Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens. 

The attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations.  Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself.  In addition, United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949.  Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (P.L. 102–1) has authorized the President ‘‘to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677’’.  In December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it ‘‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (P.L. 102–1),’’ that Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and ‘‘constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,’’ and that Congress, ‘‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688’’. 

The Iraq Liberation Act (P.L. 105–338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.  On September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to ‘‘work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’’ posed by Iraq and to ‘‘work for the necessary resolutions,’’ while also making clear that ‘‘the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable’’.  The United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary. 

Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations.  The President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations.  In addition, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (P.L. 107–40).  Finally, it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region.

Legislative History

H.J.Res. 114 was introduced by Speaker Hastert on October 2, 2002.  It was reported from the International Relations Committee, as amended, by a vote of 31-11 on October 3, 2002.  On October 10, 2002, the bill was agreed to in the House by vote of 296 - 133.  On October 11, 2002, the bill was agreed to in the Senate by a vote of 77 - 23.

Amendments

Summary of the Amendments Made in Order Under the Rule (2 amendments):

Reps. Spratt, Moran (VA), Allen, Snyder, Price, Larson, Levin, Matsui, Clyburn offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute, debatable for 1 hour, on October 10, 2002; it failed by a vote of 155 - 270 (Roll no. 453).  The amendment intended to authorize the use of U.S. armed forces to support any new U.N. Security Council resolution that mandates the elimination, by force if necessary, of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, long-range ballistic missiles, and the means of producing such weapons and missiles.  Requested that the President should seek authorization from Congress to use the armed forces of the U.S. in the absence of a U.N. Security council resolution sufficient to eliminate by force if necessary, all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, long-range ballistic missiles, and the means of producing such weapons and missiles.  Provided expedited consideration for authorization in the latter case.

Rep. Lee offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute, debatable for 1 hour, on October 10, 2002; it failed by a vote of 72 - 355. The amendment intended to urge the U.S. to work through the U.N. to seek to resolve the matter of ensuring that Iraq is not developing weapons of mass destruction, through mechanisms such as the resumption of weapons inspections, negotiation, enquiry, mediation, regional arrangements and other means.

This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved  in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.

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