Reps. McGovern and Jones to Force House Vote on War in Iraq and Syria

by | Apr 1, 2015


Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), in an interview Tuesday with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, revealed his plan to introduce, along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a privileged resolution in the US House of Representatives that will require a prompt vote regarding the war on the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. While Congress has voted to spend some funds on part of the war, there has been no floor vote in the House or Senate regarding authorization of the war since President Barack Obama started bombings in August. The resolution would be introduced after the April 13 return of House members from recess to Washington, DC.

Gazette writer Laurie Loisel reports on McGovern’s plans disclosed in the interview:

‘We ought to have a full debate and we ought to have a full discussion before we enter another war,’ he said. ‘The authorization to go to war in Afghanistan was in 2001 and in Iraq shortly thereafter. It’s time to get a new authorization.’

McGovern said he intends to work with U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, to introduce a so-called ‘privileged resolution,’ a mechanism that allows members of congress to force an issue to the floor of the House in an expedited fashion, taking precedence over other matters. This, McGovern hopes, would force a discussion on the issue of U.S. military escalation in Iraq.

‘It would be saying that our rights collectively as a House are being denied,’ he said. ‘I want Congress to do its job.’

Loisel’s full article is definitely worth a read for McGovern’s insightful comments regarding the ongoing war. McGovern says he believes that the US, in the ISIS War, is “getting sucked deeper and deeper into a quagmire where there’s no end.” He also suggests that the US is fighting the war in a manner that indicates it has not learned the lesson from history, “that we’ve got to be careful about going after bad guys by putting bad guys in power to replace them.” Further, McGovern notes how the US military action in Iraq and Syria is actually benefiting ISIS and even desired by ISIS: “I think ISIS desperately wants us to get more involved because then they can turn this into a battle against the West.”

McGovern explains in the interview that the reason he and Jones need to introduce the privileged resolution is because Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has failed to schedule an ISIS War vote on the House floor. The Gazette article reports:

McGovern said when he tried to bring the matter out for discussion on the House floor last fall, congressional leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner, said the debate should wait until a new Congress convened in the new year.

Well, the new Congress convened nearly three months ago. What’s the holdup?

Boehner’s procrastination on ensuring the House exercises its constitutional prerogative of voting the war up or down is even more two-faced than McGovern’s comment suggests. In a September ABC News interview, Boehner said he would call the House back into session should Obama propose an authorization for use of military force (AUMF), thus allowing an expedited vote on the matter. Even then, that was a cop-out since a declaration of war, AUMF, or order to terminate the war can originate in the House. The legislative branch did not just have to sit around waiting for the president to submit a legislative proposal. It is even more obviously a cop-out now given that Obama did on February 11 submit to Congress a proposed AUMF, and, nonetheless, the House still has not had a floor debate and vote regarding authorization of the war.

Boehner is all hat and no cattle on this matter.

The leadership, in the House and Senate, has chosen to allow the war to continue and escalate with no congressional vote up or down. Maybe this should be no surprise given that there has long been bipartisan House and Senate leadership support for the war. They likely figure that a floor debate and vote could only jeopardize the continuation of what they judge to be good policy.

The US has been openly bombing in the ISIS War since August. Yet the congressional leadership continues to duck a “yeas and nays” vote on the war. McGovern in the interview astutely calls this failure to act “cowardice.” Says McGovern:

‘I think it is a lack of backbone. It’s Congress’ job, its responsibility to do an authorization. It’s as simple as that,’ McGovern said. ‘If you don’t act, people can blame the White House. That’s cowardice.’

As for Obama’s draft authorization for military use, McGovern said while he’s not in agreement with the request because he believes it is too broad, at least Obama has done the right thing in coming to Congress for authorization to go to war. Now it’s up to Congress to do its job.

‘The deal is, Congress can’t complain and then do nothing,’ he said. ‘If people want to go to war, they ought to be on record saying they do, and if they don’t they ought to be on record saying they don’t.’

Thanks to the effort of Reps. McGovern and Jones (a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member), House members will soon be required to take a stand on the ISIS War that has been ongoing in Iraq and Syria for eight months. Better late than never.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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