Speaker Boehner: U.S. Ground Troops Could Be Necessary to Destroy ISIS
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio would call Congress back from its recess to vote on authorization for the use of military force against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) if the President requested one. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on This Week on Sunday, he also said that, if need be, he would support sending American ground troops to the Middle East to root out the terrorists, since he thinks airstrikes alone will not destroy ISIS. “We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re gonna pay the price”, he said.
Although the President has not sent a request for authorization for the use of military force, Congress will have to vote on legislation concerning the fight against ISIS in the future. Congress already voted to allow the U.S. military to train Syrian groups fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS, but this authorization expires in mid-December and will have to be renewed. Additionally, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Congress would have to approve additional spending for the fight against ISIS.
Would a Senate Republican Majority Restore the Filibuster?
Since Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would resign, many have speculated when his successor would be confirmed—and who would be in the majority when he is. Regardless of who controls the Senate, the confirmation will likely be a tense affair. Last year the Senate Democrats unilaterally did away with the filibuster for Executive Branch and non-Supreme Court Judicial Branch nominees, a move that enraged the Republicans. One of the big questions politicos are discussing is whether the Republicans will restore the filibuster if they become the majority after November’s elections. They criticized the Democrats fiercely for using the nuclear option, and restoring the filibuster could be a show of the party’s integrity. Some long-serving Senators like Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator John McCain say this is the way to go, since they argue abolishing the filibuster damaged the Senate. On the other hand, if they did not restore the filibuster, a future Republican President would have a much easier time confirming his or her nominees.
Anniversary of the Contract with America
Saturday marked the twentieth anniversary of the Contract with America, signed on September 27, 1994. The Contract with America was a document written by Representatives Newt Gingrich and Richard Armey and signed by over 367 congressional candidates, outlining specific promises to American voters about what would be accomplished if a Republican majority, the first in 40 years, was elected to the House of Representatives. The ten pieces of legislation which were to be voted on within the first hundred days of the new Congressional session were:
- The Fiscal Responsibility Act – created a line-item veto for the President that passed but was later ruled unconstitutional and a balanced budget amendment to the constitution that did not gain the required two-thirds vote.
- The Taking Back Our Streets Act – an anti-crime bill package which was passed, including stronger truth-in-sentencing, “good faith” rule exemptions, death penalty provisions, prison construction funding, and additional law enforcement spending.
- The Personal Responsibility Act – prohibited welfare to mothers under the age of 18 as a way of curbing illegitimacy and teen pregnancy, cut spending for welfare programs, and added a two-years-and-out provision to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program for finding work. Was vetoed by the president but an alternative similar bill was passed later that year.
- The Family Reinforcement Act – promoted adoption by adding tax incentives, increased the rights of parents in children’s education, strengthened child support, created additional child pornography laws, and created a tax credit for those claiming elderly dependents.
- The American Dream Restoration Act – created a $500-per-child tax credit, repealed the marriage tax penalty, and created the American Dream Savings Accounts to provide tax relief to middle-class families.
- The National Security Restoration Act – prevented U.S. troops from serving under the command of the United Nations without permission from the President and restored funding for national defense.
- The Senior Citizens Fairness Act – raised the Social Security earnings limit, repealed the 1993 tax hike on Social Security benefits and provided tax incentives for private long-term care insurance.
- The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act – created incentives for small businesses including “capital gains cuts and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis”, and strengthened the “Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise wages”.
- The Common Sense Legal Reform Act – created “loser pays” laws, placed “reasonable limits on punitive damages”, and reformed product liability laws to reduce unnecessary litigation.
- The Citizen Legislature Act – a 12-year term limit for members of the House and Senate
In the first hundred days of the 104th Congress, the first Republican majority in the House of Representatives since 1954 acted on all ten of the promises included in the Contract with America. While there was only a 12-seat majority by the Republican Party, 299 of the 302 roll call votes on issues related to the Contract With America were passed, with an average 70 percent of Members supporting the measures. The constitutional amendment on term limits was the only promise defeated in the House (it required a two-thirds majority to pass), and the balanced budget amendment that passed the House was defeated in the Senate.
A blog post on the Speaker’s website on Saturday highlighted some of the most important aspects of the contract and drew parallels between the political climate in 1994 and today. Millions of Americans today are unemployed or under-employed, and average wages are decreasing while prices of goods are increasing. House Republicans in 2010 created “A Pledge to America,” focusing on job creation, raising wages, and strengthening the economy, but many of the bills that have passed the House have not advanced in the Senate. In 1994, Representative Boehner asked the American people to hold the Republicans to the Contract with America, saying, “If we don’t live up to our end of the contract, we urge you, the American people, to throw us out.” Last week, the now-Speaker Boehner made another promise about “delivering what my friend Newt Gingrich calls a ‘21st century, citizen-directed government;’ one that is smaller, less costly, and more accountable to the people we serve.”
Below are two videos from September 27, 1994. The first shows House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich of Georgia talking about the contract at a rally on the steps of the Capitol, and in the second Representative John Boehner of Ohio gives his support for the document on the House floor.
And for our latest post: History of Foreign Dignitaries Appearing Before Congress