The House Armed Services Committee marked up a resolution Tuesday to formally condemn President Barack Obama for his decision to bypass Congress in releasing five senior Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl.
The president earned condemnation from both parties at Tuesday’s Capitol Hill hearing for trading five high-profile Guantanamo Bay detainees for Bergdahl without congressional approval, a move that voices on both sides of the aisle have called illegal. Democratic Arizona Rep. Ron Barber cited the historical importance of a “little argument with the British” and advised the White House that if its occupant does not abide by the Constitution, then they might as well start “boarding this place up and going home.”
Republican Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell, who introduced the legislation with a Republican and two Democratic co-sponsors (Rep. Reid Ribble on the GOP side and Reps. John Barrow and Nick Rahall on the Democratic side), told The Daily Caller that Obama broke the law in the Bergdahl trade.
“We hope that more Democrats will join us on this when it goes to the floor,” Rigell said. “When you’re going against the grain of your party you’re going to expect that there will be some pressure on the herd. But this is a constitutional matter and a national security matter.”
Rigell said that it is “very likely” that at least one of the five released detainees will end up “back on the battlefield” against U.S. soldiers. Obama is keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan.
“There are serious questions related to the circumstances of which he became a prisoner of the Taliban and the Haqqani network,” Rigell said, but noted that desertion allegations against Bergdahl played no role in the rationale behind his resolution. “I have confidence in [Army Chief of Staff] General Odierno…to get to the bottom of it.”
“Let’s just say political malfeasance,” Rigell said, referring to Obama’s White House Rose Garden ceremony announcing the trade. “It was a gross error in judgment for the president to go to the Rose Garden under the circumstances. A quiet assurance to the parents” would have sufficed.
Rigell added that the crime is not technically an impeachable offense.
Bergdahl’s platoon mates searched the area near Afghanistan’s Pakistan border continuously for 90 days after Bergdahl deserted his post in 2009. (RELATED: Bergdahl Was A Deserter, Fellow Soldiers Say)
Bergdahl returned to active duty this month with a desk job in San Antonio, Texas.
The resolution will proceed to a full vote on the House floor. Republican House Majority Leader-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy privately promised to bring it to the floor in September, immediately after the August recess. (RELATED: US Knew Bowe Bergdahl Had Deserted, Investigated Him)
The resolution has six provisions:
1: “condemns and disapproves of the failure of the Obama administration to comply with the lawful 30-day statutory reporting requirement in executing the transfer of five senior members of the Taliban from detention at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”
2: “expresses grave concern about the national security risks associated with the transfer of five senior Taliban leaders, including the national security threat to the American people and the Armed Forces of the United States”
3: “expresses grave concern over the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists, even when conducted through intermediaries, and the risk that such negotiations with terrorists may further encourage hostilities and the abduction of Americans”
4: “stipulates that further violations of the law set forth in section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 4 113–66; 10 U.S.C. 801 note) and section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act,
6 2014 (Public Law 113–76) are unacceptable”
5: “expresses that these actions have burdened unnecessarily the trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the Obama administration to constructively engage and work with Congress”
6: “expresses relief that Sergeant Bergdahl has returned safely to the United States.”