We've been doing these Blue America live chats for almost seven years. Today we're proud to welcome our very first Republican ever, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina. Join us in the comments section below at 3pm (ET, noon on the West Coast). This isn't a fundraiser or an endorsement session, although I couldn't help noticing that last year the mainstream conservative, libertarian-leaning Jones voted more frequently with progressives on crucial roll call votes than 3 of North Carolina's "Democratic" congressmen.
If you watched one of MSNBC's presentations of Hubris in recent weeks, you must have noticed the spotlight that was shined on Rep. Jones because of the way he reached inside himself-- and reached out through his strongly held religious beliefs-- to reassess his vote for Bush's illegitimate attack on Iraq in 2002. It profoundly changed Walter Jones-- if not as a man (I barely know him enough to say), as a Member of Congress. Now you find him working across the aisle-- with sincere advocates of peace from both parties-- on issues that aren't especially partisan... just especially American. It was Alan Grayson who introduced me to him and when I told Raul Grijalva Rep. Jones would be a Blue America guest today he told me he recalled, vividly, "the long years of the Bush/Cheney machine and how hard it was to find a Republican to speak the truth. My colleague Walter Jones became an almost lone voice of reason in his party and he's stayed true to his word every day since. I'm glad to have him on our side. When it comes to real checks and balances, Congress' oversight duties, drone attacks and warmaking, he's been as right as anyone, and I'm happy to see him get the recognition he deserves for his courage."
Last year John Boehner had Rep. Jones' bill, HCR 107 (which was co-sponsored by, among others, Grijalva, Lynn Woolsey and Dennis Kucinich, as well as Ron Paul and... Louie Gohmert, who, admittedly, will cosponsor anything that uses the word "impeachable") bottled up in committee, where it died without so much as a hearing. The bill simply expressed "the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."
In November Walter Jones was reelected with a robust 63% of the vote, the biggest margin of any Republican in the state-- much to the chagrin of Eric Cantor, who had encouraged a primary challenge against him with money he got from Sheldon Adelson. Immediately upon reelection, Jones reintroduced his resolution, this time as HCR 3. This is the letter he sent to every Member of Congress explaining it, prefaced with a quote from James Madison: allowing the President alone to take the country into war would be "too much of a temptation for one man."
Over the last 20 years American presidents have assumed powers that our Constitution does not explicitly give the commander-in-chief. From the U.S. intervention in Bosnia to the recent U.S. involvement in Libya, Congress did not authorize the use of military force. However, the president continues to send our forces into harm's way without congressional approval. To address this issue, I have introduced H. Con. Res. 3. This resolution reaffirms that the power to declare war resides in the U.S. Congress. Under Article 1, Section 8, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the president must come to the Congress to initiate hostilities. The proceedings of the Constitutional Convention make clear that the framers firmly believed that the momentous consequences of initiating armed hostilities should be decided not by a single individual, but only by concurrence of both houses of Congress.
H. Con. Res. 3 affirms that if a president, any president, violates this most fundamental constitutional provision, doing so would constitute an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article 2, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution.
I ask you to join me as a co-sponsor of this important resolution. Thank you for your consideration.
"[M]y concern has always been," he said last year, "since we were misled with the intelligence to go into Iraq, and all the number of young men and women who have been killed, and loss of limbs, that Congress needs to come back to what the Constitution says, and that is, if you’re going to commit our young men and women to fight and die, you must declare war.” This session he's also co-sponsoring a bill, HR 125 with Rosa DeLauro (R-CT) that has a fascinating genesis. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate by then-Senators Clinton and Obama. Jones simply changed the word “Iraq” to “Afghanistan.” The bill directs the Secretary of State to submit to Congress an unclassified report providing the justification for the President's decision to deny Congress its constitutionally protected role by concluding an agreement on the future of the security relationship between the United States and Afghanistan as an executive agreement." Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) have since signed on as cosponsors. Boehner has it bottled up in the House Foreign Affairs Committee where Ed Royce is sitting on it. (Brooks is also a member of the committee, as is Grayson.)