Senators unveil new war authorization days after latest Syria strikes

Matt Saintsing
April 17, 2018 - 2:49 pm

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erin Trower/Released


The 17-year-old War on Terror continues to rage, and now, Congress is considering a new war authorization that will expand the executive branch’s authority to wage war without an expiration date.

The announcement, made by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) late Monday, comes as Congress is asking questions about President Donald Trump’s latest strike on the Syrian regime, last week.

 “For as long as I have helped lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, beginning as ranking member in 2013, we have been engaged in a discussion over the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which provides the legal authority necessary to fight terror abroad,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“For too long, Congress has given presidents a blank check to wage war,” added Kaine, the Democratic ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee.

“We’ve let the 9/11 and Iraq War authorizations get stretched to justify wars against multiple terrorist groups in over a dozen countries, from Niger to the Philippines.”

Kaine said that this measure “makes Congress do its job by weighing in on where, when and with who we are at war.” He also said this issue is important to him as the father of a Marine.

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are the other co-sponsors.

The proposed authorization would not expire on any date, something some members of Congress would prefer to see. Instead, it includes a process for lawmakers to review the previous authorization and vote to either repeal or update it.

Without Congress acting on this measure, the previous nearly 17-year-old authorization would remain.

One added oversight would require the president to let Congress know within 48-hours if and when American military operations are expanded beyond Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

This announcement is the latest attempt to update and replace war authorizations Congress passes just days after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which have been stretch to include conflicts beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, the countries Congress gave President George W. Bush the authority to deploy troops.

For example, the 2001 AUMF is used to justify military action against ISIS, a group not that did not exist at the time the resolution was written.

Kaine has been a vocal force in the Senate on this issue. He has long pressed for a new war authorization dating back to the Obama administration. He and Flake introduced a new one last year that would have included ISIS, the Taliban, and al-Qaida, but would expire after five years requiring Congress to act if the administration wanted to include new terror groups.

The GOP has largely resisted a new war authorization claiming that such restrictions would limit the president from acting in the nation’s national security interests.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that President Trump had the authority to strike the Syrian regime under the existing AUMF.

“I would hate since we have threats across the globe, especially ISIS, is to have an AUMF that ties the hands of our military behind their backs,” said Ryan.