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 Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGun proposal picks up GOP support Durbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration 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 Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible Poll: Most in NJ want Menendez to resign if found guilty MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia 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.