Sen. Kaine: Iraq action needs Congress's OK

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Tuesday that open-ended military actions, like President Obama's airstrikes in Iraq, should require congressional approval and that a bill he's proposed would ensure that is the case.

Kaine said that while he supports the U.S. humanitarian mission underway in Iraq, "it is now up to the administration to receive Congressional authorization for the current air campaign against” the group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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“This is especially the case since the president has indicated that our renewed military engagement in Iraq could be a long-term project,” Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said in a statement.

“I have long stressed that Congress must formally approve the initiation of significant military action,” the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee added.

Kaine joins a growing chorus of Democratic lawmakers who have warned the president that he must get their stamp of approval if he chooses to expand the U.S. military campaign in Iraq.

Two weeks ago, the House passed a resolution co-sponsored by several Democrats calling on the president to get congressional approval for any sustained U.S. troop presence. The vote was 370-40.

Last week, the president launched airstrikes against ISIS and ordered humanitarian airdrops to help displaced Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar, after ISIS threatened to capture the Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq.

Obama then sent a letter to Congress that claimed U.S. military operations in Iraq would be “limited in their scope and duration as necessary to protect American personnel” and aid the Yazidis.

In his statement Kaine said, “it is precisely because of circumstances like these” that he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill this year to clarify the War Powers Act and clearly define the consultation process between the White House and Congress.

Kaine said that “no one doubts the barbarity” of ISIS or the threat it poses to U.S. partners and that he would “always support the President if he takes action to protect American servicemembers and diplomats.”

However, “the mission and objectives of any military action must be made clear to Congress, the American people, and our men and women in uniform,” he said.