This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, September 28, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: ... is we have a wide range of views on what to do with this issue. People see the facts a little differently, people see the conclusions differently. And what I have told my caucus from the beginning, and I know Tom has told his folks the same thing, is, look, on this issue everybody has to do what in their heart and mind they think is the right thing to do.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Welcome back to The Beltway Boy and girl.
Joining us to talk about where congressional Democrats stand on supporting the resolution that would authorize military action against Iraq is Democratic Congressman Howard Berman of California. He's a member of the House International Relations Committee and a member of the White House's working group on Iraq.
And by my estimation, one of the most estimable members of the whole United States Congress.
Welcome to the show.
REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA), INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, that's very nice of you. I think your show's great too.
Now, how has this fight this week over politicizing the war affected the president's ability to get the maximum support that he possibly can in Congress?
BERMAN: Well, I think the president made some careless and unfortunate statements. There was a vehement response. But I think we'll get past that.
And the whole question of politicization, if in fact there are political motives for trying to schedule a vote before the election — and by the way, there are some good policy reasons to do that — I don't think it's going to have the political impact that those who are designing it think it will.
I think a large number of Democrats will end up standing with the president on serious questions of national security, and for them, and — it will not become a serious political issue.
LINDA CHAVEZ, GUEST CO-HOST: Congressman, what exactly is this resolution going to look like? We've heard lots of talk about what's actually going to emerge. Do you have some idea what the resolution language is going to be?
BERMAN: Well, not yet, because it isn't finalized. But I think that the two sides, that is the Democratic leadership in the Congress and the White House, are moving closer together.
It's getting more specific. It's going to be focused on Iraq. It's going to indicate a desire to pursue diplomatic means through the United Nations before any attack is launched. It's going to insist on the kind of disarmament of weapons of mass destruction that I think poses the great security threat.
And it is going to involve regular congressional consultations and reports and be consistent with the provisions of the War Powers Act.
CHAVEZ: How long is it going to give the president to get something through the U.N.? What kind of time limits are we talking about here?
BERMAN: Well, I don't think we are in a position — I don't think we should be in a position to be micromanaging the amount of time.
By and large, the reason I think we should be supporting this is because I think a strong show of support in the Congress for the eventual and potential use of force maximizes the chances, first of all, of getting the most comprehensive and strong possible inspection regime through the Security Council, and when — which I believe will be the case — Saddam resists that, provides the best opportunity for a multilateral force to participate in this enterprise.
KONDRACKE: Congressman, there are 211 Democrats in the House. How many do you think will vote for this resolution?
BERMAN: Well, it's too early to say, because the language hasn't been fully negotiated. But I think a large — a much greater number than supported the administration at the time of the Gulf War Resolution.
The — one of the biggest differences, of course, that Democratic leader, Richard Gephardt, thinks that in the end, if all other means fail, force is necessary to deal with what Saddam has — his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
CHAVEZ: Don't you think that Al Gore and Tom Daschle made your job a little easier — or a little harder, I should say, in trying to get some Democrats to jump aboard and support the president on this?
BERMAN: Well, I'm not — we'll see soon enough. But I still think there'll be a substantial number of Democrats who will support this and operate on bipartisan fashion on this issue. And I think it's very important that we do it, because I think it maximizes our chance of getting the U.N. to take this seriously.
KONDRACKE: Now, congressman, let me ask you one question — one or two questions about — that are raised by doves, and see if you've gotten satisfactory answers in what they are.
One of them, raised by Senator Kennedy on Friday, was, urban warfare, fighting in Baghdad. I mean, are you satisfied that we can do that without, you know, massive casualties?
BERMAN: Look, I, I don't think any of us know the full nature of the war plans. And I always go into this thinking that even the best thought-through plans frequently go awry. So I understand that there are very dangerous potentials in doing this. If I didn't believe we would have to do it eventually, I wouldn't support doing it now.
KONDRACKE: OK. Thanks, thanks so much for being with us.
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