Defining 'Non-Binding' The Senate is considering a proposed "nonbinding" resolution that condemns President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. What effect might such a resolution actually have?
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Defining 'Non-Binding'

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Defining 'Non-Binding'

Defining 'Non-Binding'

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DANIEL SCHORR: Non-binding is one of those friendly words that translates as having your legislative cake and eating it too.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: A non-binding resolution on Iraq. Also, bipartisan - another good word - is coming up in the Senate on Wednesday, the day after President Bush's State of the Union address. It is sponsored by Democratic Senators Joseph Biden and Carl Levin and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Its objective, in the words of Senator Hagel, is to stop the president from pursuing a dangerously irresponsible policy of sending 21,000 more American troops to Iraq.

The wording of the resolution is: It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq. Tough talk. If it were to pass and survive a presidential veto, what would then happen? Well, not much, actually. Troop reinforcement is already accounted for in defense appropriations. That's what you mean by non-binding. But the non-binding resolution serves one important purpose; it responds to the political need to let the folks back home, who are increasingly turned off on the war, know that their voice has been heard, but without undermining the troops already there.

The issue of more troops, fewer troops, status quo troops, is especially tricky for presidential aspirants. Senator Barack Obama proposes congressional action to put a cap on the numbers of troops in Iraq. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, just back from Iraq, supports the bipartisan resolution, but would also cap American troop strength at January levels. It's all non-binding, of course, but it keeps the political debate alive. The games politicians play.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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