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Paul offers declaration of war against ISIS

Greg Nash

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is introducing a measure formally declaring war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and providing a limited authorization for using force against the terrorist group.

“I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act. Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it,“ Paul said in a statement.

{mosads}The Kentucky conservative and potential 2016 presidential contender said in an op-ed last month that the U.S. campaign against ISIS is illegal, and had to be “declared and made valid, or it must be ended.”

The bill gives President Obama authorization to use the armed forces against ISIS. But it limits the president’s authority when it comes to the deploying ground troops. The bill says ground forces may only be used to rescue servicemembers, conduct operations against high-value targets or assist with “advisory and intelligence gathering operations.”

Those limitations may meet resistance from other Republicans who have said they would not back any authorization of force that would limit the president’s military options.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in November that any authorization limiting the use of ground troops was “dead on arrival.”

“I will not support sending our military into harm’s way with their arms tied behind their backs,” he said.

The administration has repeatedly insisted that it will not send American troops into direct combat with ISIS. Military leaders, though, have warned that defeating ISIS may require boots on the ground, possibly from allied nations.

Last month, the administration announced plans to deploy an additional 1,500 U.S. troops to help train and advise Iraqi forces against ISIS. That move would double the American presence there to 3,000, raising worries on Capitol Hill about mission creep.

A top military advisor said last month that American troops might see combat.

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.

The Obama administration is relying on the authorization of military force passed after the 9/11 attacks but has welcomed a new measure from Congress.

Paul’s bill repeals the 2002 authorization of the use of military force in Iraq and a 2001 measure passed after the September 11 attacks.

The proposed measure comes as the U.S. prepares to bolster its offensive against ISIS, which controls broad swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi forces are expected to launch a U.S.-backed campaign in the spring aimed at dislodging ISIS from key areas — including the city of Mosul.

“Senator Paul’s introduction of a war resolution today is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of bipartisan members calling for a debate and vote over a new authorization to use force and a repeal of the existing ones,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is behind a resolution narrowly authorizing the use of force against ISIS in the House.

“An authorization vote shouldn’t wait until the new year – this war was started in this Congress, and we should not adjourn without doing our constitutional duty.”

–This report was updated at 2:02 p.m.

Tags authorization of military force Iraq ISIS Rand Paul Syria

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