Rep. Larsen against resolution on Iraq

If voters wondered what exactly separates Congressman Rick Larsen and his challenger, Norma Smith, they found it Tuesday when Larsen announced he will vote against the House resolution on Iraq.

Smith reacted to the news with enthusiasm. “I’d vote for it,” she said from a cell phone after doing a TV interview in Seattle. “This clearly demonstrates a fundamental difference in the way Rick Larsen and I see the world.”

Larsen, a Democrat from Arlington, announced his intention to vote against the resolution in an e-mail. “The use of force resolution now before Congress provides the presidency unprecedented authority to use force without the evidence necessary to warrant such authority,” Larsen said. “Therefore, I must vote against it.”

Larsen said the resolution would be voted on today, Oct. 9. His vote will likely be in the minority as even Minority Leader Dick Gephart, a Democrat, supports the measure.

While Larsen referred to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a “horrible, ruthless dictator,” he worried that the resolution before the House allows President Bush to order a “preemptive strike against Iraq.”

Before a strike is launched, Larsen argued, “the United States must work with the United Nations and our allies to make weapons inspections work.”

Smith, a Republican from Whidbey Island, disagrees that the president will order a strike soon after the resolution passes. “It’s clear we need to give the president the authority to use force if necessary,” she said. But she added that the resolution is “the best way to avoid full-scale war.”

As Smith sees it, Hussein will take the U.S. seriously of the entire Congress stands behind the president. Once the House approves the resolution it will go to the Senate for action.

Smith predicted that Larsen will be out-voted in the House. “There will be a strong, bipartisan vote,” she said. “Democratic leaders will vote with the president because it’s the right thing to do.”

Larsen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said an immediate war with Iraq would do little to win the war on terrorism. “We can take Iraq by ourselves, but we need the world’s help in the war on terrorism,” he said.

While Larsen did not rule out the eventual use of force, he said, “I believe the evidence shows other options exist before the use of force.”

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