At a Brookings Institute event today, Biden announced, "The 2002 (Use of Force) authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq. I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq."
This professed effort has no chance of achieving its stated cause, but the timing of such a bold statement must be taken into consideration to determine its true intent.
Tomorrow the House will be voting on a non-binding statement of principles that voices disapproval for Bush's proposed surge, and Sen. Harry Reid just announced that the Senate intends to take up that measure on Saturday.
Republicans have thus far successfully prevented the Senate from undertaking an Iraq debate on the floor, and the Dems probably want to ensure that they don't have to face the kind of resistance they had last week.
More than anything, Biden's announcement today is a warning for Senate Republicans to go along with the program or face an onslaught of much more embarassing legislative initiatives.
Here's a lengthier excerpt of Biden's prepared comments, with the complete transcript available on Brookings' site.
"The House is about to pronounce itself on the President’s surge plan for Iraq and the Senate will, too. Some minimize the significance of a non-binding resolution. If it is so meaningless, why did the White House and the President’s political supporters mobilize so much energy against it? Opposing the surge is only a first step. We need a radical change in course in Iraq. If the President won’t act, Congress will. But Congress must act responsibly. We must resist the temptation to push for changes that sound good but produce bad results. The best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq. That’s exactly what I’m doing. We gave the President that power to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein. The WMD were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq. I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq. Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to responsibly draw down, while continuing to combat terrorists, train Iraqis and respond to emergencies. We should make equally clear what their mission is not: to stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a savage civil war."