Obama in ’07: Congress’ Responsibility to ‘Constrain’ Presidents Pursuing Wrong-Headed Polices

Although the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and some in the media have criticized the 47 Republican senators who wrote a letter to remind the leaders of Iran the U.S. Constitution says Congress has a role in some major foreign policy decisions, back in 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama was working very hard to put “a short leash” on President George W. Bush in an effort to go around the commander-in-chief and end the war in Iraq, using Congress’ power of the purse.

Obama had backed legislation to “constrain” Bush by attaching a timetable for troop withdrawals to a spending bill because he said, “I don’t think it’s acceptable for us to simply give the president more of a carte blanche than he already has received.”

At the 2007 MoveOn.org virtual town hall, Obama said, “President Bush has indicated he is going veto a timetable that is attached to any supplemental. We are going to have to continue to ratchet up the pressure and present to him legislation that has constraint on his actions,” adding, “I’m also looking at options of giving the president a much shorter leash.”

Appearing on MSNBC in January of 2007, Senator Obama said, “It’s not going to end up being a constitutional issue, in that Congress can legislate how monies are used; that’s part of its powers. But there are going to be some significant institutional issues in how do we constrain a president who is pursuing  what the vast majority of not only the American people, but also experts and military observers, think is a wrong-headed policy. We have a responsibility to do that.”

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