Amid growing signs that the U.S. faces nothing but bad choices in its war against ISIS, Rep. Jim McGovern, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, today denounced Congress as “the poster child for cowardice” for refusing to debate a new war powers resolution to set parameters for the Obama administration’s efforts to “degrade and defeat” the jihadist terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
At the behest of Republican and Democratic leaders, Obama sent a proposed war powers resolution to Congress in February outlining his core objectives of systematically destroying the jihadist terror group through a sustained campaign of airstrikes, supporting and training allied forces on the ground and humanitarian assistance – but without committing a large number of U.S. combat troops to the effort.
The administration proposal would give the military “flexibility” to confront unforeseen circumstances, potentially by deploying Special Forces in the region. But it would limit the mission to three years and would not authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
But rather than roll up their sleeves and debate and vote on the president’s request for new military authorization, Republican leaders have effectively shelved the issue and moved on to other things, such as rewriting the rules for NSA spying on Americans’ phone calls and providing Obama with fast track authority to negotiate a new trade pact with Asian countries.
With many conservative Republicans including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina complaining that the president’s strategy for defeating ISIS woefully inadequate and some Democrats worried that it goes too far in committing U.S. troops and resources to a no-win situation in the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) said recently he had no incentive to take up the issue in his committee.
Frankly speaking, this is unacceptable,” McGovern, a member of the House Rules Committee, said on the House floor today, adding that if the Congress “doesn’t have the stomach” to authorize the war it should vote to bring U.S. forces home, according to Politico. McGovern introduced a bipartisan resolution that would require full debate within 15 days on whether U.S. troops should withdraw from Iraq and Syria. His bipartisan resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“This House appears to have no problem sending our uniformed men and women into harm’s way,” McGovern said in prepared remarks. “It appears to have no problem spending billions of dollars for the arms, equipment and airpower to carry out these wars. But it just can’t bring itself to step up to the plate and take responsibility for these wars.”
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”