Congress may vote on war, after all (sort of)

The liberal group Democracy For America is also making the same case. Liberals want a separate vote because they believe packaging the measure inside the CR effectively protects Members of Congress from having to vote directly on war. Those who might be uncomfortable voting for the arming of the rebels might vote Yes, anyway, arguing that they did so to avoid shutting down the government. An aide to the CPC estimates that if there were a separate vote on arming the rebels, you might see a sizable chunk of progressives vote No.

What we’re seeing here are the outlines of that left-right alliance between antiwar liberals and conservative libertarians that occasionally rises up to act as a check on presidential power in the realm of national security and to act as a counter-weight to the many “hawks” in Congress. Both sides’ leaderships appear to believe it is in their parties’ political interest to usher this through as quickly as possible. GOP leaders don’t want government shutdown theatrics heading into the midterms and appear to think it’s bad politics to oppose Obama’s ask on ISIS. Dem leaders want to help the White House get what it wants with a minimum of fuss.

But conservatives and liberals want a vote on war. They may get one — sort of, anyway — in the form of a vote on arming the rebels. For antiwar progressives, this may be the only opportunity they have to register opposition to broader war. But the fact that this may be the only war vote we get out of Congress just underscores the degree to which it’s abdicating its responsibility here.

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