Crocker: Iraqi Parliament May Ratify Long-Term Agreement — But U.S. Congress Can’t

In November, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship.” Recently, the administration has refused to say whether it is “a constitutional requirement” to “consult with Congress…in the commitment of U.S. forces in a battle zone.”

In today’s hearing, Ambassador Ryan Crocker reiterated that the Bush administration does not plan to bring the long-term agreement to Congress first. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) asked whether Maliki’s administration is consulting with the Iraqi Parliament on the agreement:

CLINTON: Do you anticipate that the Iraqi governrment would submit such an agreement to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification?

CROCKER: The Iraqi government has indicated it will bring the agreement to the Council of Representatives. At this point, it is not clear, at least to me, whether that will be for a formal vote or whether they will repeat the process they used in November with the Declaration of Principles in which it was simply read to the members of the Parliament.

CLINTON: Does the administration plan to submit this agreement to our Congress?

CROCKER: At this point, senator, we do not anticipate the agreements will have within them any elements would require the advice and consent procedure. We intend to negotiate this as an executive agreement.

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In fact, as Yale Law School’s Oona Hathaway has noted, the agreement permits U.S. and coalition forces combat authority, and hence must be approved by Congress first “either as a treaty or as a congressional-executive agreement.”

Bush and his allies in Congress frequently joke that the Iraqi government is a model that the U.S. Congress should follow. In this case, the administration should heed its own words.

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Huffington Post notes that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) today praised the Iraqi government for achieving “a lot more political reconciliation and progress since September than the American political leadership has.”

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