Today on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the outgoing chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said President Bush should have congressional support before he announces any plan for escalation in Iraq. “[I]n the past, the administration has been inclined not to disregard Congress but to not take Congress very seriously. I think this time Congress has to be taken seriously.”
If Bush ignores Congress, Lugar said he should expect “a lot of hearings, a lot of study, a lot of criticism,” and “demands for subpoenas.” Fox host Chris Wallace said, “You’re saying this could get ugly.” Lugar replied, “Yes, it could.” Watch it:
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Larry Korb, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, said last week that “Congress should intervene to block another troop surge unless the administration could adequately explain to it why such a policy was necessary.” Read American Progress’ full memo to Congress.
Do you support sending in more troops?
LUGAR: Well, I don’t know whether I do or not. And I say that because my prayer is that President Bush will take the advice that has come frequently, and that is with people being there on the takeoff, they have to support you on the landing.
Now, in the past, the administration has been inclined not to disregard Congress but to not take Congress very seriously. I think this time Congress has to be taken seriously. There’s been an election; Republicans lost the election. There’s going to be a change in leadership in my committee and likewise on the House side.
What I would advise would be maybe a retreat — it could be right here in Washington — but for several hours, in which the Foreign Relations Committee, just to take our group, really studies what is the president’s plan, understands specifically who is to be trained, how would the politics affect what we’ve just been talking about, the devolution of the country, the oil money or anything else, the contact group.
In other words, that there be at least some study of this by all of this before, suddenly, we are all asked to comment, Are you in favor of surge? Are you in favor of withdrawal? Six months? Three months? — all the cliches. These are not going to be relevant.
WALLACE: But you’re saying do this before the president addresses the nation.
LUGAR: Yes, that would be advisable, so that…
WALLACE: And what if he doesn’t do that? What if, basically, you know, he calls a group of you in, has the meeting around the Cabinet Room…
LUGAR: Which is the usual course.
WALLACE: Yes. Then what?
LUGAR: Then he can anticipate, not endless hearings, but a lot of hearings, a lot of study, a lot of criticism. In other words, as opposed to having a Foreign Relations Committee that really now is well-informed, understands, may not agree but understands how you get from place to place, we have an assortment of invitations, demands for subpoenas, all sorts of situations in which administration figures perhaps reluctantly come to the committee or don’t come to the committee or various other experts discuss…
WALLACE: You’re saying this could get ugly.
LUGAR: Yes, it could. And it need not.