September 16th, 2007
08:40 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Democrat move on Iraq 'unconstitutional'

McCain was critical of a plan to reduce troop levels

AYNOR, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, in the midst of a campaign swing through the Palmetto State on his "No Surrender Tour," told CNN Saturday that a plan gaining popularity among Senate Democrats to reduce troop levels in Iraq is "unconstitutional."

The proposal, originally crafted by Sen. Jim Webb, would mandate a certain period of troop rest between deployments, necessitating a reduction of forces in Iraq.

McCain, having just offered a vigorous defense of the war at a speech at Roger's Bar-B-Q House in Florence, South Carolina said that Congress has no business mandating the length of tours by servicemen.

"Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that the Congress decides how long people will spend on tours of duty and how long they will spend back in the United States? It's blatantly unconstitutional," McCain said. "The Constitution of the United States said Congress will declare wars and fund wars."

The Senate takes up debate on the defense authorization bill Monday, and Webb's amendment would need 60 votes to avoid a Republican filibuster. Last time it came up for a vote in July, it received only 56 votes, though Democratic sources told CNN this week that they are closer to 60 votes this time around.

"Is this all about helping the men and women in the military having a lighter burden, or is this another way of achieving a goal that they can't get, a straight up or down vote on withdrawal?," McCain asked.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Iraq • John McCain • South Carolina
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. SMFD, McLean, VA

    Democratic Move on Iraq, not Democrat Move on Iraq.
    Only Fox, obnoxious Republicans and WorldNet Daily should use that slur.

    September 16, 2007 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  2. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Honor over legality? That's not an endorsement you know.I think McCain is a few marbles short.

    September 16, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  3. Jim Hassinger, Glendale, CA

    What a pitiful old man McCain has turned out to be. He wanted to be president too much.

    September 16, 2007 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. Kurt, Arlington, TX

    I find it refreshing that McCain is willing to bring up the constitution. He's quite right that Congress has no business dictating troop movements. However, he'll also have to concede that our intervention in Iraq is unconstitutional and illegal in the first place. As constitution champion Ron Paul has noted, this war was declared by the President. Only Congress is give the constitutional permission to declare war.

    September 16, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. Bruce, Phoenix, AZ

    Yet more evidence that McCain is painfully out of touch and uninformed. Maybe next weekend he can take an Intro to the Constitution seminar at Phoenix College and get a little bit more of an understand of what IS and ISN'T stated in the Constitution. But beyond that, this guy has some nerve talking about actions being unconstitutional. I mean, in the past six years when have the Republicans given a rat's hiney about the Constitution? Apparently Senator McCain sees the Constitution as as document that has a certain pick-and-choose quality when it comes to honoring and enforcing the many protections afforded by that masterpiece document. John, you're out of money and you've been out of ideas for a long time. It's time to pack up the tent and head home.

    September 16, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Jackie, Atlanta, Georgia

    Hold on, MH in Alexandria, you just referred to the Constitution of the United States as "legal minutia." It's the document that this nation is BUILT on and the only thing that defines us as a nation. If the United States doesn't have the Constitution, we have nothing else. There is clearly the right for Congress to make war policy, as noted by so many others that took the time to read our nations greatest masterpiece. We are a country of ideas, and the greatest idea this nation has come up with so far is this document. Don't defile it. McCain had his facts wrong and used a lie to manipulate his listeners into sympathizing with him. Where is the honor there?

    September 16, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Anonymous

    McCain is a joke. We don't want a president with a sagging face.

    September 16, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. Edward

    Well, I still respect and appreciate your service to our country, Mr. McCain; thank you. However, increasingly I find I have diminishing respect for your political positions.

    September 16, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    "Something can be deemed unconstitutional if the supreme court decides that the constitution prohibits such an action."

    Well, since Bush got to place his appointees on the Supreme Court now, and shift the balance, my guess is they'd vote his way...

    September 16, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Way to shoot yourself in the foot McCain. Do I even need to say anything?

    The pro-war people have done so much more that could be construed as unconstitutional than those on the other side. Flaunting words like 'unconstitutional' and 'patriotic' about in the ways his party uses them is shameful.

    September 16, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Bill Taylor, Lancaster CA

    Sorry John McCain.

    Right after it says Congress writes the paychecks, the Constitution says: "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces". Article 1, Section 8, Clause 14.

    If it wasn't there, how could Congress make laws that bind the military, like the UCMJ? Dumb statement John. I'm sure it sounds great on radio, but it is dead wrong and as a Senator and an Officer you should know it.

    September 16, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. Julie Seattle WA

    Yoou whoo! Hate to inform you but Senator McCain is NOT kissing the Bush patootie. He is looking out after yours. This country is in deep peril, most of you have no real idea. This terror has been in the planning stages for DECADES. All you brilliant commentators surely know that already. If John McCain isn't running the store, what will the 'good looking, sexy, whatever the heck' in the White House be doing while Rome burns? Oh yeah, getting a hair cut, and cleaning the stains off the fifth wife's Jesus Jammies, and watching the mud wrestling in the Congress. The reason we are in trouble now started way before Clinton. It was just set in motion by Mr. Bush.

    September 16, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Well if "Congress has no business mandating the length of tours by servicemen", than the Republican Administration should have enough respect for their military to refrain from burning their military members out due to the current excessive length and numbers of tours.

    And I would guess that if the present Administration held this respect for their military, the Democrats wouldn't have to take on the responsibility.

    September 16, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Larry, Shippensburg PA

    Sen. McCain didn't seem too worried about the Constitution when he pushed through his brainchild the BCRA which was a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment and his personal attempts to right the wrongs of his involvement in the Keating Five.

    I also didn't see him crying foul about unconstitutional provisions in the Patriot Act that he voted for without reading. When he took office he took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. How can he do that if he can't be bothered to read legislation before he supports it. Barney Frank and Ron Paul voted NO to the Patriot Act specifically for this reason. No one would let them read it first.

    He didn't take an oath to treat the Constitution like a Sunday buffet in which you sample the entrees you like and avoid the rest. He didn't take an oath to sidestep or trample the Constitution when it doesn't agree with his personal political agenda. But that's exactly how he and 99% of our elected government treat that document.

    It makes me wonder how they square up lying to God. Because that is exactly what McCain and those like him have done. And if they will lie to God, they damn sure will have no problem lying to us.

    September 16, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. JB, Old Tappan, NJ

    Alas, Congress has not declared war on Iraq...so why fund an occupation?

    September 16, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. P. Sebree

    Closer to 60 votes?...thats not good enough. the america people have spoken. which part are you guys NOT getting?...Let's get out! NOW!!
    You want us to think that the service people want to stay there. You want us to believe we can win the war. Some people just believe any Damn thing.

    September 17, 2007 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  17. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    And here I thought a war of choice would be considered unconstitutional; Silly me thinking illegally wire-tapping American citizens would be considered unconstitutional; Slap me with a wet noodle with my hilarious mind-set that suspending habeas corpus is considered unconstitutional ... just to find out from Mad Cow that these things AREN'T unconstitutional but trying to get our troops out of Iraq is ... I guess I missed that part in the Constitution.

    September 17, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. TR Knight

    McCain has clearly demonstrated that he is not mentally sound to be POTUS with this ridiculous assertion.

    September 19, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Anonymous, /b/, 4chan

    Thank you, Senator McCain, for your latest lunacy in a long line of hysterical support for a failed policy.

    Congress's power to fund wars gives it the ability to, as with funding of anything else, set conditions for recieving that funding.

    September 21, 2007 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
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