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Wednesday November 30, 2011 | 07:45 AM

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was one of 30 senators Tuesday night to back an unsuccessful bid by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to pass legislation formally ending the war in Iraq and revoking President Obama’s authority to deploy troops there.

The amendment that Paul sought to add to a broader defense bill failed 30-67, with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, voting against it. Most of those who voted for the amendment were Democrats. Snowe joined just four Republicans voting for the measure, including conservative GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

U.S. soldiers are coming home at the end of the year, anyway, but Paul, a libertarian and Tea Party movement favorite, contends that Congress needs to take back its power over granting permission to go to war.

"This year we have seen the president commit our armed forces to combat, while Congress has been ignored or remained silent. No present or future administration should be given an indefinite blank check to conduct military operations in Iraq by Congress,” Paul said in a statement. "Congress must reclaim its constitutional authority over the decision to go to war, or to end a war - it is one of the body's most important powers."

"As our service members return home from Iraq, we need to honor them by committing to a return to a more rational and constitutional foreign policy,” Paul said.

(Update as of Dec. 1:

Snowe said via email that she voted for Paul’s amendment because U.S. combat forces are leaving Iraq by the end of the year and “thanks to the heroic sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the objectives of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq have been met.” Snowe says she supported Paul’s amendment because it reaffirmed “Congress’ power to conclude the 2002 authorization once all of our combat forces have left the country.”

Snowe also was unhappy earlier this year when Obama did not seek authorization for the use of force in Libya, and voted in favor of a Paul proposal challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s decision to take military action there.)


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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