USA senators offer legislation covering military action against militants

Elias Hubbard
April 17, 2018

US senators announced long-awaited legislation on Monday to provide congressional authorization for campaigns against militant groups in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, as lawmakers push to take back authority over the military from the White House. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, committee member Sen.

The new AUMF is co-sponsored by Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia, Chris Coons of DE and Bill Nelson of Florida, and Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Todd Young of Indiana.

The long-awaited draft authorization to set new guidelines on the 17-year-old war on terrorism was released Monday night by senators and, to the displeasure of some Democrats, it would not impose significant restrictions on military operations, such as an expiration date. "There have been a number of efforts over the years to update these authorities, and while there is still work ahead, I am pleased that we have reached an agreement on a product for the committee to consider and that I hope will ultimately strike an appropriate balance of ensuring the administration has the flexibility necessary to win this fight while strengthening the rightful and necessary role of Congress". The senior New Jersey Democrat also said he had concerns about whether the resolution essentially "changes the nature of Congress declaring war, which is what the Constitution says, versus nullifying it after something happens, which I understand was part of their language".

As the 17-year-old War on Terror rages on-and with the worldwide community still reeling from the illegal missile strikes that the USA, U.K., and France launched on Syria over the weekend-Congress is considering a measure that critics warn will expand the executive branch's authority to wage war.

Even in committee, the prospects for approval are uncertain, with at least one Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, criticizing any measure that does not dramatically constrain counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

· Authorization for Use of Military Force: Authorizes the executive to use all necessary and appropriate force against al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and designated associated forces.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used (pdf) by three administration to justify military actions across the globe. However, his draft includes a process for lawmakers every four years to review the authorization and, under expedited procedures, vote to repeal or modify the AUMF. If Congress did not act, the existing authorization would stay in place. That would trigger a 60-day expedited review by lawmakers, who could remove that authority to use force. If Congress doesn't act during that window, the authority would continue.

Cardin said he had trouble with those two provisions because while they would allow Congress to weigh in, it would be very hard to get enough support to override a probable presidential veto.

Repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs: Repeals the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs after the new AUMF has been in place for 120 days.

Associated Forces and Foreign Countries: Requires the president to report to Congress on all new designated associated forces, the basis for those designations, and each new country in which the United States is using military force pursuant to the AUMF.

But the proposed war authorization does not address Assad and Syria, as it's focused on terrorist groups.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford will conduct a classified briefing on the Syria situation Tuesday for all members of the Senate.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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