As a Member of the House Appropriations State Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I have introduced a new resolution (H.R. 1028), to reassert the constitutional powers of Congress and make it clear that any agreement, other than a treaty, between Iraq and the United States that imposes burdens in excess of those customarily included in a status of forces agreement (SOFA) requires congressional authority, approval, and appropriations.

On the same day I introduced the resolution, I questioned Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte during a Subcommittee hearing about reports of ongoing Bush administration negotiations to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.

While Negroponte denied that the Bush administration is seeking a permanent military presence as part of  recent administration discussions about a SOFA with Iraq, just last November President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki entered into a Declaration of Principles, which cites ‘security assurances and commitments’, without the approval of Congress.

The reality is that the Bush administration negotiated the Declaration of Principles in secret and then sought to characterize this sweeping agreement as an innocuous 'Status Forces of Agreement' to circumvent Congressional scrutiny and approval.

The plain fact, however, is that the Declaration of Principles cannot possibly be deemed a status of forces agreement because, among other things, it explicitly calls for ‘security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.’

Historically, a SOFA serves the limited purpose of delineating the rights and responsibilities of the military when operating on foreign soil. They have never been the vehicle through which the United States guarantees the security of a foreign country.

The Bush administration cannot unilaterally establish a long term military presence in Iraq, tying the hands of future presidents, without Congressional approval.

This resolution is intended to hold President Bush accountable to the bills he has signed into law that include provisions prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq. I will work with my colleagues to generate support to push this resolution through Congress.