Dem senator: White House not cooperating on AUMF

Congress is not likely to vote on a measure that would grant authority for the president's use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during the lame-duck session, a senior Democratic senator said on Tuesday.

Congress is scheduled to recess next week, but Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezOvernight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers Senate narrowly rejects new FBI surveillance Kaine, Murphy push extension of Iran sanctions MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the White House was being uncooperative by not sending over an official who could testify on what kind of a measure they would want.  

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"The administration is not producing witnesses, which makes such an important issue very difficult to formulate," said Menendez, whose committee would be responsible for working on an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) bill.  

"You would think that they would want to work with us, so that we can fashion an AUMF that would give the president the wherewithal to fight ISIL successfully but by the same token, tailor it enough so we don't end up in an open-ended conflict as we have seen under the 2001 AUMF," Menendez said, using an alternate name for the terrorist group.  

The measure would give the president congressional approval for military action taken against ISIS, which has included the deployment of more than 3,000 troops to Iraq, and hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.  

Democrats and some Republicans say an AUMF is necessary to provide the president with the authority he needs to wage the war against ISIS, but to also provide constraints on force.  

Several Democratic lawmakers have proposed AUMFs which would restrict the duration of the authority, and ban the use of ground troops. 

The administration has insisted it has the authority it needs to pursue ISIS, under 2001 and 2002 AUMFs used for Afghanistan and Iraq.  

However, it has also said that military action against ISIS was stronger with Congress' backing and encouraged lawmakers to pass an AUMF, but lawmakers say the administration has not sent over any proposed language for one.  

Menendez predicted Congress would run out of time as lawmakers are scheduled to return home on Dec. 12, and are currently working on other priorities.  

"We asked them to send us a witness, they couldn't send us a witness until next week, and that's the last week, from all appearances, that we're going to be here," he said.  

"Plus we're going to have NDAA and the omnibus, so how does one hold a hearing and a markup, and bring it to the floor, so I don't know what their intentions are."