Union Tribune

October 8, 2002

Local GOP lawmakers back Bush on Iraq
Filner says no way; Susan Davis not sure


WASHINGTON While San Diego's Republican lawmakers stand solidly behind a proposed House resolution to grant President Bush authority to use force against Iraq, Democratic Rep. Bob Filner of San Diego is clearly against it.

"I'm surprised so many congressmen seem to be willing to give our authority to this president," Filner said. "This is clearly more political than military. I'm outraged that the president would act this way.

"I think Iraq is indeed a threat, but we need to disarm Saddam through the (United Nations)," Filner said. "We need the world with us, not against us."

As Congress poises for a debate this week over whether to allow Bush to begin military actions against Iraq, San Diego's other Democrat, freshman lawmaker Susan Davis, is not as unequivocal as her colleague.

"I continue to have concerns," Davis said in San Diego on Saturday. " I've met with generals There's several generals who share some of those concerns."

A spokesman said Davis remained unchanged after meeting with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz yesterday and listening to Bush's speech last night.

"She's looking forward to seeing what's coming on the floor," spokesman Aaron Hunter said last night.

The White House and some key congressional leaders last week agreed to a proposed resolution that would support the use of force against Iraq if diplomacy fails to get Saddam Hussein to abandon the development of weapons of mass destruction.

The Senate already has begun debating the resolution, and the House is expected to begin its discussions today. That would set the stage for possible votes later in the week.

San Diego County's GOP lawmakers Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon; Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido; and Darrell Issa, R-Vista have embraced the Bush resolution worked out with congressional leaders.

"I'm going to be part of a team that doesn't want to gut this resolution," said Issa, a member of the International Relations Committee. "The Congress asked the president to go to the U.N., and he went to the U.N."

Hunter was among the House members who joined Bush last week in a Rose Garden announcement of the compromise resolution that would give the president broad discretion to begin military operations.

"He's very comfortable with the House resolution, and it's very similar to what the White House wanted," said Michael Harrison, a spokesman for Hunter. "The constitution has a commander-in-chief, and it's very important that he gets as much flexibility as possible."

Cunningham "is very supportive of the president," said Harmony Allen, spokeswoman for the lawmaker.

As the Senate began debating the proposed joint resolution backed by the White House, California's Democratic senators said they support other proposals to deal with Iraq.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is leaning toward an amendment sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., that would limit the circumstances in which the president could act, a spokesman said.

The proposal would limit any U.S. actions to removing weapons of mass destruction and require the administration to exhaust diplomatic options before using military force.

Sen. Barbara Boxer supports a proposal sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would condition U.S. military action on a U.N. resolution that authorizes force.

"I will not vote for blank check for unilateral action," Boxer said.