Senate Rejects Measure to End ISIS War Authorization

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2017

The libertarian-leaning senator negotiated the vote by threatening to block other amendments to the critical defense authorization legislation without it.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the author of the amendment, threatened to hold up passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets forth the Pentagon's budget, unless the Senate voted on repealing the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) for the wars against al Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and the Taliban.

The vote came after Monday marked the 16th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The vote did not break down along party lines.

The War Powers Resolution, enacted in 1973, requires the president to tell Congress he is sending USA troops into combat and prohibits those forces from remaining for more than 90 days unless Congress has approved an authorization for military force. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Chris Murphy of CT, voted with Paul.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who said he recently returned from visiting troops in Afghanistan and grew even more supportive of USA involvement, nevertheless was among those openly undecided ahead of the vote.

"Sen. Paul's amendment gives us that opportunity by saying the '01 and '02 authorizations need to end", Cardin said.

"We have fought the longest war in USA history under an original authorization to go after the people who attacked us on 9/11", said Paul on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

"You can't replace something with nothing, and we have nothing", Reed said, adding that the six-month gap before the authorizations were rescinded would both create logistical difficulties for the military and send a negative signal to enemies overseas. It failed with 61 senators voting against (including 13 Democrats) and 36 voting in support (including Paul and two other Republicans).

"That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of global terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons".

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, has argued that it has the legal authority to wage war against ISIS under the 2001 authorization. Lee was the only member in the House to vote against the authorization when it passed in 2001. He opposed Paul's amendment.

There was division even among those who have been actively seeking a new authorization for the war against the Islamic State.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who has joined forces with Arizona Republican Sen.

"Look, we've got problems here at home", Paul said on the floor before the vote.

But Kaine and Flake split on Paul's amendment. Paul argued that the AUMF was wrongly been used to authorize seven distinct wars, and that repealing it would force Congress to debate specific authorizations for specific wars as an alternative. Paul, along with a number of other supporters from both political parties, has long criticized the scope of the resolutions.

"Doing away with the legal basis under which we're going against ISIS today, before we've implemented and put in place another one, to me is not prudent", Corker said. This was the first time in 15 years the full Senate has voted on Congress' role in initiating war.

"I can not support my colleague's effort to repeal the 2001 AUMF in 6 months because of the very real risk associated with repealing such a vital law before we have something to replace it with", Flake said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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