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Lawmakers draft legislation opposing Iraq troop surge as constitutional questions swirl

[JURIST] Speaker of the US House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) [official website] committed House Democrats to joining the Senate Democrats Thursday in supporting nonbinding legislation declaring that "it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq." Pelosi's statement matches a proposed bipartisan Senate resolution [text] to the same effect introduced by Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) and co-sponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) [official profiles]. AP has more.

On Wednesday, a blue-ribbon coalition of US constitutional law scholars sent a letter [PDF text] to the congressional leadership arguing that the constitutional authority vested in Congress "is more than ample for Congress to give legal effect to its will with respect to the troop increase." The letter states that Congress may "limit the scope of the present Iraq War" by directly defining limits such as "geographic restrictions" or "a ceiling on the number of troops" deployed for the conflict. Congress may also "[enact] appropriations restrictions that limit the use of appropriated funds." Republicans in Congress are expected to propose alternative legislation, although votes on either will not be expected until after President Bush's State of the Union address on January 23.

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