Senator seeks more say in Iraq agreement
September 11, 2008
WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Webb introduced an amendment Tuesday hoping to get Congress a place at the negotiating table in any security agreements with Iraq.
The amendment seeks an extension of the U.N. mandate, to expire "after one year or upon the enactment of a new U.S.-Iraq strategic framework agreement, whichever comes first," according to prepared remarks sent out to the media by the Virginia Democrat’s office.
The amendment also restricts the implementation of a new security agreement "without the proper advice and consent of Congress," according to the statement.
Currently, U.S. forces operate in Iraq under the U.N. mandate, in place since May 2003, which expires at the end of the year.
The United States and Iraq have been trying to hammer out an agreement, after having missed the original July 31 deadline.
Any such agreement would spell out rules for U.S. military and contractors operating in Iraq, who would have legal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel.
Webb, a former Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, hopes to attach the amendment to the 2009 defense authorization bill.
The White House has insisted that an agreement with Iraq is simply a status of forces agreement, which would not require Congressional approval.
But Webb argues that under the United States Constitution, all treaties require that the Congress approve any agreement before it is actually put into motion.
"Any time you provide a security agreement, it’s akin to a treaty," said Jessica Smith, Webb’s communications director. "[Webb] has been very vocal about constitutional balance in the area of treaties."