Senate Democrats

Democrats Leading Push for Political Reconciliation in Iraq

More than a year ago,Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), along with President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie H. Gelb, announced a detailed plan for promoting a political settlement in Iraq that would allow our troops to leave, without leaving chaos behind.  The plan called for a decentralized, federal system in Iraq which would give its people local control over the fabric of their daily lives, including police, jobs, education and government services.  A limited central government would be responsible for protecting Iraq’s borders and distributing its oil revenues.

Senator Biden said:

Everyone agrees that there is no military solution in Iraq, only a political solution.  That begs the question: so, what is your political solution?  I believe we have an obligation to answer that question.  That is what this amendment does.

Here are highlights of the Biden amendment:

The Biden Amendment Calls for Strongly Supporting A Decentralized Federal System. The measure urges the United States to encourage Iraq’s major factions to abide by the Iraqi Constitution and create a federal system of government, allowing for the creation of federal regions. [S Con Res 37, 6/7/07]

The Amendment Emphasizes Federalism, Not Partition. The measure relies on the Iraqi Constitution, which calls for a decentralized, federal system. According to Senators Biden and Boxer through a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, when regional law conflicts with national law, regional law prevails. However, the amendment also calls upon the Iraqi National Government to quickly agree upon, and implement, a law providing for the equitable distribution of the Iraq’s oil revenue. [S Con Res 37, 6/7/07; Dear Colleague Letter by Senators Biden and Boxer, 9/20/07]

The Amendment Emphasizes Local Control over Government Services. According to Senators Biden and Boxer, a decentralized federal system would give the Iraqi people local control over the “fabric of their daily lives, including the police, jobs, education and government services.” [Dear Colleague Letter by Senators Biden and Boxer, 9/20/07]

The Biden Amendment Calls for Engaging the International Community In Finding a Political Solution in Iraq. The amendment calls on the international community to, 1) support an Iraqi political settlement based on federalism; 2) acknowledge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq; and 3)fulfill the commitments for the urgent delivery of significant assistance and debt relief to Iraq, especially those made by the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. [S Con Res 37, 6/7/07]

The Biden Amendment Calls for Convening a Conference For Iraqi’s To Work Out Political Differences. In addition to engaging the international community, the measure specifically calls for convening a conference for the Iraqis to diplomatically reach a political settlement, “based on the creation of federal regions within a united Iraq.” [S Con Res 37, 6/7/07]

Senator John Kerry Joined Senator Biden In Arguing For an International Conference. “For over three years or more, I have been pushing for a standing conference, a summit, a peace conference which brings the Permanent Five and the neighbors and the Iraqi factions that are struggling all to the table simultaneously to work through diplomacy in order to arrive at an understanding of how you can go forward. Now, Diplomacy has always been the key to trying to find the political settlement in Iraq. It’s been absent.” [Remarks on the Senate Floor, 9/25/07]