Senate

Senators use Paris attacks to renew push for ISIS war bill

A bipartisan pair of senators are doubling down on their months-long push for Congress to authorize the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the wake of last week’s attacks in Paris.

“It’s well past time that we move on this and hopefully the events of the past couple of weeks, the attacks that happened in Paris, the bombing of the plane, the other suicide bombings that have occurred, our commitment of new resources, will convince us all that it’s time to act here in Congress,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

{mosads}Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) added that the “challenges of Paris” and other recent events underscore that lawmakers need to take up and pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS.

“This is a threat, and the president started military action for a narrow and limited reason, but that threat has mutated,” he added. “Like a cancer, its grown and it is now affecting nations all over the world, and the question is how long will Congress continue to be silent.” 

The two senators remarks come after ISIS formally claimed credit for the Paris attacks, which killed approximately 129 people. While Kaine and Flake have been outspoken advocates for lawmakers passing an ISIS-specific AUMF, the issue has failed to gain momentum in Congress.
 
Asked about the potential for legislation last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that “I personally would not find it very appealing trying to come up with an authorization for the use of force in this particular way.” 
 
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added, separately, that he doesn’t regret Congress not taking up legislation and that he doesn’t “believe in AUM[F]s.” 
 
The comments from leadership last week come after members of the Foreign Relations Committee have struggled for months to overcome policy and political hurdles on legislation authorize the military operation. While Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) pledged earlier this year that they would try to see if there was a path forward, members of the committee have been blunt about the lack of progress.
 
Corker admitted last week that he doesn’t see Congress taking up an AUMF “any time soon.”
 
Cardin added separately that he doesn’t’ “disagree with the assessments that have been given, that we don’t see a path forward.” 
  
While Democrats quickly suggested earlier this month that Obama’s decision to send troops to Syria signaled that Congress must pass legislation authorizing the conflict, lawmakers quickly backpedaled and acknowledged that the president’s decision was unlikely to add measurable momentum behind an AUMF’s chances. 
Tags Ben Cardin Bob Corker Harry Reid Jeff Flake Mitch McConnell Tim Kaine
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