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Iraq Debate: NPR Special Coverage
Congress Approves Bush's Request for Resolution on Use of Force

click for more Latest NPR News reports and analysis of Iraq debate

President Bush
President Bush got a broad-ranging congressional resolution to use force to disarm Iraq's suspected "weapons of mass destruction" arsenal.
Photo: Reuters Limited

Some of the same lawmakers in this week's debate were also in Congress for the last pivotal debate on Iraq, more than a decade ago. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the U.N. Security Council responded with a unanimous call for Iraq's unconditional withdrawal.



Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott
Senators Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
Photo: Reuters Limited


President Bush and Rep. Gephardt
As President George W. Bush looks on, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) announces his support of a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
Photo: Reuters Limited


Oct. 11, 2002 -- The Senate votes 77-23 for a resolution allowing President Bush to decide whether to seek military action against Iraq. The vote follows approval in the House. The votes come after nearly a week of debate.

Some of the same lawmakers were also in Congress for the last pivotal debate on Iraq, more than a decade ago. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the U.N. Security Council responded with a unanimous call for Iraq's unconditional withdrawal. When Iraq did not respond, in late November 1990 the Security Council voted 12-2 to use "all means necessary" to remove Iraq from Kuwait if it did not withdraw by Jan. 15, 1991.

On Jan. 4, 1991, the Senate finally began debate on the use of force to expel Iraq. On Jan. 12, both houses of Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force. Four days later, U.S. forces attacked Iraq.

For NPR Online, NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin recalls the state of play in Congress at the time of that 1991 vote.

Both the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats, Rudin notes. The Senate vote authorizing the use of force was 52-47; the House vote was 250-183.

In the Senate, the opposition was led by Majority Leader George Mitchell, Rudin says. Democrats supporting the resolution were led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn). Ultimately, 42 of 44 Republicans voted yes, as did 10 of 55 Democrats.

Of the Democrats who voted yes then, Rudin says, the following are still in the Senate: Lieberman, John Breaux of Louisiana, Bob Graham of Florida, and Harry Reid of Nevada. "Alabama’s Richard Shelby -- who was then a Democrat, but switched to the GOP in 1994 -- also voted yes," Rudin says. "So did Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee."

Of the Democrats who voted no in 1991, the following are still in the Senate: Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Joseph Biden of Delaware, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Max Baucus of Montana, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin.

Seven current Democratic senators were in the House at the time of the 1991 vote, Rudin says. Six voted no: Barbara Boxer of California, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tim Johnson of South Dakota. One, Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, voted yes.

Only two Republican senators voted no: Charles Grassley of Iowa, and Mark Hatfield of Oregon, who retired from the Senate in 1996.

In the House, Rudin says, opposition to the use of force was led by then-Speaker Tom Foley of Washington, as well as by Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, and Whip David Bonior of Michigan. In the House, 164 out of 167 Republicans voted yes on the resolution authorizing use of force, while only 86 out of 265 Democrats voted in favor. Of the three GOP House members who then voted against the use of force, only one remains in office -- Connie Morella of Maryland.

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Recent NPR reports on the debate over Iraq:

Senate Follows Suit, Grants Bush Authority
The House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution allowing President Bush considerable latitude in using force against Iraq. NPR's David Welna reports. (5:00)
Morning Edition, Oct. 11, 2002

House Authorizes Use of Force in Iraq
The House of Representatives today voted to authorize the president to use force against Iraq. The bipartisan vote was 296 to 133, ending three days of debate that ran late into the night. The House rejected amendments that would have tied any U.S. action to a U.N. resolution. The Senate is expected to follow suit late tonight or sometime tomorrow. NPR's Steve Inskeep reports from the Capitol. (3:45)
All Things Considered, Oct. 10, 2002

Defining 'Regime Change' in Iraq
Robert Siegel talks with Shibley Telhami about what would constitute a "regime change" in Iraq. Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.(4:45)
All Things Considered, Oct. 10, 2002

Senate Democrats, Republicans Battle Over Iraq
Both chambers of Congress were consumed with Iraq today, debating the resolution authorizing force against that country and considering how much longer that debate should go on. The House is expected to vote tomorrow, but the Senate is struggling to determine its deadline. NPR's Steve Inskeep reports from the Capitol. (3:30)
All Things Considered, Oct. 9, 2002

Iraq Debate: Solidarity or War Agenda?
As Congress nears a vote on war against Iraq, NPR's Steve Inskeep reports on what's shaping lawmakers' opinions. Some have advocated an attack, while others continue to decry the president's war agenda. Still, others say the vote will be to simply show solidarity with president Bush. (4:27)
Morning Edition, Oct. 9, 2002

Bush Looking for 'Free Hand' from Congress
NPR's David Welna reports President Bush urged Congress to join in his push for action from the United Nations, as the House of Representatives began debate today on a resolution that would authorize action against Iraq. President Bush sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Capitol Hill to press for a "yes" vote, and from a campaign stop in Knoxville, Tenn., the president himself urged both the House and Senate to grant him a free hand. NPR's David Welna reports from the Capitol. (4:00)
All Things Considered, Oct. 8, 2002

Bush Calls Iraq a Threat, Urges Action
With the confidence of almost guaranteed support from Congress for a strike against Iraq, President Bush went prime-time last night to justify pre-emptive action. From a Cincinnati podium, he described an Iraqi leadership already amassing weapons of mass destruction, and said that the nation's past and continued association with terrorists makes it a persistent threat. NPR's Don Gonyea reports. (5:36)
Morning Edition, Oct. 8, 2002

Senate Debates Iraq
The U.S. Senate resumed its debate over the use of force against Iraq today, as President Bush prepared a speech on the subject to be delivered in Ohio tonight. NPR's Steve Inskeep reports from the Capitol. (4:15)
All Things Considered, Oct. 7, 2002

Post-War Plan for Iraq
Jacki Lyden talks with Kanan Makiya, coordinator for the Future of Iraq initiative organized by the U.S. State Department, about what Iraq might look like if Saddam Hussein were ousted from power. Makiya is also a professor of Modern Middle East studies at Brandeis University. (5:15)
All Things Considered, Oct. 7, 2002

Daniel Schorr Commentary: Bush Undecided
Even as President Bush prepares a speech to the nation on Iraq, NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that President Bush has not yet made up his mind to launch a military invasion against Saddam Hussein. Although leaflets and laser-guided bombs are already falling from the skies over Iraq, there are indications that administration officials have some hope of an act from within that would bring about the stated goal of "regime change." (2:30)
All Things Considered, Oct. 7, 2002

Cokie Roberts Previews Bush Address on Iraq
Host Bob Edwards talks with NPR's Cokie Roberts about President Bush's expected address tonight on a proposed strategy for dealing with Iraq. They also discuss the Congressional debate on military action against Saddam Hussein's regime, and Ari Fleischer's statements last week about the overthrow or assassination of the Iraqi leader. (4:30)
Morning Edition, Oct. 7, 2002

U.N. Considers Plan on Iraq Weapons Inspectors
NPR's David Kestenbaum reports the United Nations is perusing an agreement that would send an international team of weapons inspectors back to Iraq. Inspectors learned a lot from their time there eleven years ago and are better prepared with more advanced technology. (5:16)
Morning Edition, Oct. 7, 2002





   
   
   
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