Earlier this week, Sen. Al Franken introduced the Pay for War Resolution. “Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us well over a trillion dollars,” he said in a floor speech (PDF). “And it’s been financed through debt, through borrowing from other countries and emergency supplemental spending bills. What’s more, the Iraq war was accompanied by a massive tax cut. That failed fiscal experiment created the impression that going to war requires no financial sacrifice. We know that that’s just not true. The question is, who will bear that financial sacrifice — the generation that has decided to go to war, or its children and grandchildren.”
The Pay for War Resolution isn’t particularly powerful legislation. It can be overridden by 60 senators — which is to say, the number needed to override it is essentially the same number needed to pass a bill in the first place. But it establishes the principle that war should be paid for, and if the Senate wants to violate that principle, it forces individual senators to say so explicitly.