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Congress returns, ready to battle Bush

 

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

 

WASHINGTON - Congressmen returning from their Independence Day break are ready for battle with the White House, with Democrats decrying President Bush's commutation of former aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence and fighting Bush's latest claim of executive privilege.

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Both events occurred around Congress' vacation, inflaming an intense battle between Democrats and Bush over his use of executive power. There was relatively high tension on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as majority Democrats ? and increasing numbers of Republicans ? challenged Bush's Iraq war policy.

 

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said Monday there had been "a steady erosion for the president's policy" in Congress because of the "tremendous loss of life among our troops" in June and "the failure of the Iraqi government to pursue the political reforms that are necessary to quell the sectarian violence."

 

Meanwhile, several Democratic-run investigations are playing out this week as they head toward contempt of Congress citations and, if neither side yields, federal court:

 

_Monday is the deadline for the White House to explain why Bush is refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena for e-mails and other documents on his aides' involvement in the firings of eight federal prosecutors last winter. The White House is not expected to comply with the deadline.

 

_In a pair of hearings Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will look at Bush's commutation last week of Libby's prison sentence for obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hear from former White House political director Sara Taylor about the prosecutor firings, according to Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

 

_The next day, the House panel is expected to turn to the prosecutor firings and has scheduled testimony from former White House Counsel Harriet Miers. It's unclear whether she will appear.

 

On Iraq, Democrats expect to resume legislative challenges to Bush's policy on the war as the Senate this week takes up a major defense spending bill. The administration has been concerned about an escalation of Iraqi war fervor. So much so that Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled a four-nation South American tour this week to work with the White House on Iraq policy.

 

Collins is among the Senate Republicans seeking to see U.S. troops departing Iraq by early 2008. Bush's strategy for a short-term troop increase to stabilize Baghdad and certain parts of Iraq has not been successful, she said.

 

"The president argued that we needed to undertake the surge in order to give the Iraq government the time, the space to pursue the political reforms," Collins said on CNN. "That hasn't happened. Instead it has been our troops who are making the sacrifice, who are bearing the burden, and that's why you see a real change in support for the Iraq strategy."

 

In Baghdad Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned that a quick American troop withdrawal could lead to civil war and the collapse of the Iraqi state.

 

He said the U.S. has a responsibility to build Iraqi forces so that they can take over the country's security. But he also told reporters that the Iraqis "understand the huge pressure that will increase more and more in the United States" ahead of a September report to Congress by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and military commander Gen. David Petraeus.

 

The weeklong Fourth of July break did not cool disputes between Congress and the White House. In fact, Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence teed up a new project for Democratic investigators.

 

Leahy and others said they suspect that Bush commuted Libby's sentence to keep Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff from revealing internal White House discussions.

 

So they are talking to the prosecutor in the CIA case, Patrick Fitzgerald, about testifying before Congress, several senators said Sunday.

 

"I think you may very well see Mr. Fitzgerald before the Senate Judiciary Committee," Leahy said on CNN's "Late Edition."

 

Through White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Bush declared executive privilege on the documents subpoenaed by the committees. He argued that releasing them would damage the confidential nature of advice given the president. The Judiciary Committee chairmen demanded that the White House explain the decision more fully by Monday.

 

The Washington Post, citing unidentified sources, reported Sunday that Fielding was expected to tell lawmakers that he already has provided the legal basis for the executive privilege claims and does not intend to hand over the documentation sought.

 

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior Republican on Leahy's committee, defended the White House.

 

"There comes a point where the White House has to say, 'Hey, look there are certain confidential things in the White House that we're not going to share with Congress, just like there are certain confidential things in Congress that we're not going to share with the White House,'" Hatch, R-Utah, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

 

Both Leahy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., have said they would move toward holding those named in the subpoenas in contempt of Congress if they do not comply.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070709/ap_on_...o/congress_bush

 

 

This is going to be one bloody summer on the hill

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Yahoo.com

Bush denies Congress access to aides

 

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 16 minutes ago

 

WASHINGTON - President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors.

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The White House, however, did offer again to make former counsel Harriet Miers and one-time political director Sara Taylor available for private, off-the-record interviews.

 

In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers' demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege.

 

The latest move in the separation of powers fight between the legislative and executive branches came as members of Congress began returning from their Fourth of July recess. An atmosphere of high tension accompanied the resumption of work as a fight also loomed there between majority Democrats and some key Republicans and Bush over his Iraq war policy.

 

In his letter regarding subpoenas the Judiciary panels issued, Fielding said, "The president feels compelled to assert executive privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers."

 

"You may be assured that the president's assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented," the letter said.

 

Fielding was responding to a 10 a.m. EDT deadline set by the Democratic chairmen, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, for the White House to explain it's privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it and provide logs of which documents were being withheld.

 

As expected, Fielding refused to comply. He said he was acting at Bush's direction, and he complained that the committees had decided to enforce the subpoenas whether or not the White House complied.

 

"The committees have already prejudged the question, regardless of the production of any privilege log," Fielding wrote. "In such circumstances, we will not be undertaking such a project, even as a further accommodation."

 

Conyers' response left little doubt where the matter was headed.

 

"Contrary what the White House may believe, it is the Congress and the courts that will decide whether an invocation of Executive Privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally," the House chairman said in a statement.

 

The privilege claim on testimony by former aides won't necessarily prevent them from testifying this week, as scheduled.

 

Leahy said that Taylor, Bush's former political director, may testify as scheduled before the Senate panel on Wednesday. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled Miers' testimony for Thursday, but it was unclear whether she would appear, according to congressional aides speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were under way.

 

The exchange Monday was the latest step in a slow-motion legal waltz between the White House and lawmakers toward eventual contempt-of-Congress citations. If neither side yielded in that circumstance, it would go to a federal court.

 

The probe into the U.S. attorney firings was only one of several Democratic-led investigations of the White House and its use of executive power spanning the war in Iraq, Bush's secretive wiretapping program and his commutation last week of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence.

 

Meanwhile, several Democratic-run investigations are playing out this week as they head toward contempt of Congress citations and, if neither side yields, federal court.

 

On Iraq, Democrats expect to resume legislative challenges to Bush's policy on the war as the Senate this week takes up a major defense spending bill. The administration has been concerned about an escalation of Iraqi war fervor. So much so that Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled a four-nation South American tour this week to work with the White House on Iraq policy. unclear whether she will appear.

 

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said Monday there had been "a steady erosion for the president's policy" in Congress because of the "tremendous loss of life among our troops" in June and "the failure of the Iraqi government to pursue the political reforms that are necessary to quell the sectarian violence."

 

Collins is among the Senate Republicans seeking to see U.S. troops departing Iraq by early 2008. Bush's strategy for a short-term troop increase to stabilize Baghdad and certain parts of Iraq has not been successful, she said.

 

"The president argued that we needed to undertake the surge in order to give the Iraq government the time, the space to pursue the political reforms," Collins said on CNN. "That hasn't happened. Instead it has been our troops who are making the sacrifice, who are bearing the burden, and that's why you see a real change in support for the Iraq strategy."

 

In Baghdad Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned that a quick American troop withdrawal could lead to civil war and the collapse of the Iraqi state.

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Guest Festa

Business as in stagnation and stalling on the real issues.

 

Yep. This country needs a political makeover on both sides of the aisle it isn't even funny.

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Business as in stagnation and stalling on the real issues.

 

Yep. This country needs a political makeover on both sides of the aisle it isn't even funny.

Term limits, FTW

so one like minded person can be replaced by another? dont get me wrong...i understand that there needs to be some continuity...but there hasnt been a new idea in washington since the civil rights movement...just the same bulls*** one year after another...(from both sides)

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Business as in stagnation and stalling on the real issues.

 

Yep. This country needs a political makeover on both sides of the aisle it isn't even funny.

Term limits, FTW

 

Would probably have the opposite effect.

 

In any case, term limits would probably be unconstitutional.

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There is nothing in the Constitution about term limits, period (to the best of my knowledge). That's why people can keep serving in the House or Senate as long as they keep getting re-elected, which is very easy these days.

 

States cannot impose term limits on their Congressional representatives. That's a fact. Please see U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.

 

The federal government may impose term limits on Congressmen, but it would most likely would have to amend the constitution to do so. A federal statute (not constitutional amendment) setting term limits would also likely be unconstitutional as it would abridge freedom of speech (the right to run for political office is a form of political speech).

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There is nothing in the Constitution about term limits, period (to the best of my knowledge). That's why people can keep serving in the House or Senate as long as they keep getting re-elected, which is very easy these days.

 

States cannot impose term limits on their Congressional representatives. That's a fact. Please see U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.

 

The federal government may impose term limits on Congressmen, but it would most likely would have to amend the constitution to do so. A federal statute (not constitutional amendment) setting term limits would also likely be unconstitutional as it would abridge freedom of speech (the right to run for political office is a form of political speech).

I was talking about the federal government, which as you said is most likely Constitutional.

 

Yes, it MIGHT violate the 1st Amendment, but I bet that it would win a SC case under the current Court.

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Guest Night Phantom

You definitely read his post totally wrong. Prinmemito accurately stated that term limits would be unconstitutional.

 

Easiest way would be to amend the constitution anyways to include it since that's what was done for the presidency, but it'll never happen. There's no incentive for Congress to limit its own power unless some insane majority of the country (I'm talking like 75-80% or more) consistently is calling for it.

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You definitely read his post totally wrong. Prinmemito accurately stated that term limits would be unconstitutional.

 

Easiest way would be to amend the constitution anyways to include it since that's what was done for the presidency, but it'll never happen. There's no incentive for Congress to limit its own power unless some insane majority of the country (I'm talking like 75-80% or more) consistently is calling for it.

 

And considering the voting percentage that will never happen.

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