Senate Dems to debate force vote against ISIS after the election

Senate Democrats plan to debate and vote on a broad resolution authorizing military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after the election, dodging the danger of angering liberal voters this fall.

“We’re going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force. It’s long overdue,” said Senate Democratic Whip Richard DurbinDick DurbinOPINION | DACA helps people achieve the American dream, don't take it away Immigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP 'Dreamers' deadline looms for Trump MORE (D-Ill.).

The authorization would focus narrowly on ISIS, likely bar the deployment of ground troops and set a one-year time limit on military action.

The plan to vote on a resolution specifically authorizing strikes against the extremist Sunni group could help reassure liberal Democrats nervous about supporting a measure that authorizes President Obama to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria.

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Durbin announced the roadmap at a Democratic leadership press conference shortly before the chamber was scheduled to vote on a government funding measure that included the so-called Title 10 authority to train the rebels.

Durbin said he is pushing the measure with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLawmakers target horse meat trade Senators, staff get approval to testify in Menendez corruption trial Trump admin not opposed to new war authorization MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tim KaineTim Kaine Violent white nationalist protests prompt state of emergency in Virginia Republicans will get their comeuppance in New Jersey, Virginia Spicer signs deal with top TV lawyer: report MORE (D-Va.).

“This is one of the most important votes we can cast,” he said.

Durbin said the Senate would take up the measure when the pending authorization for training Syrian rebels expires on Dec. 11.

A senior Democratic aide, howver, said a floor vote on any new use-of-force resolution passed by Foreign Relations is not guaranteed.
 
“No decisions have been made on how to proceed with regards to an authorization of military force,” the aide said.

The promise of a full debate over military action against ISIS could shore up Democratic support for the combined Title 10 authority and government funding measure, which is scheduled for a vote Thursday afternoon.

“It did calm some concerns,” Durbin said. “What we learned in Iraq is that presidents were capable of misleading Congress into voting for a war.”

He said the notion that Obama could use congressional permission to arm Syrian rebels for an open-ended military engagement worried some Democrats.

Democratic leaders have to coordinate how the resolution being considered by the panel will mesh with a use-of-force resolution that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) has included in the annual Defense Department authorization. 

— This story was updated at 1:49 p.m.