Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Rejects Curb on Troop Use but Nonbinding Provision Passes, Revealing Dept of Dissatisfaction

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Rejects Curb on Troop Use but Nonbinding Provision Passes, Revealing Dept of Dissatisfaction

Article excerpt

The Senate rejected a Republican effort Tuesday night to give Congress a greater say in President Bill Clinton's ability to use combat forces in conflicts such as those in Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

By a vote of 65-33, the Senate turned aside a measure that would have prohibited spending defense money on any United Nations operation in which U.S. soldiers were under the operational command of a foreign officer.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., voted for the measure while John C. Danforth, R-Mo., voted against it. Illinois Democrats Carol Moseley-Braun and Paul Simon voted against the measure.

The Senate then approved, by a 96-2 vote, a substitute nonbinding measure urging the president to consult with Congress before putting soldiers under foreign command and make a report within 48 hours afterward.

Congressional dissatisfaction with the administration's foreign policymaking has fueled Senate efforts to curb the president's power, and for the second straight week the White House had to fend off congressional limits.

But two more battles loomed over amendments by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan.

As an escape for lawmakers who harbored doubts about opposing the measure Tuesday, Sens. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and John Warner, R-Va., offered a nonbinding resolution that said U.S. forces must be under the operational control of qualified commanders.

It also urged the president to consult with Congress before placing combat forces under foreign command and asked for a report within 48 hours of the decision.

Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., sponsor of the losing measure, said the Nunn-Warner amendment to the 1994 defense spending bill was "good cover" for his colleagues.

The Senate spent much of the past two days debating the president's right to place U.S. forces under the control of foreign commanders, with the arguments crossing party lines.

"I don't see how you can prospectively tell the commander in chief what he can do with armed forces," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, "We ought to say, `Mr. President, slow down, slow down. We don't think you've thought through this. …

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