ISIS vote divides Senate

Senators are divided over whether Congress should vote this month to authorize military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the schism is cutting across party lines.

Senior Democrats such as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (Calif.) say President Obama does not need additional authority, and that position has support from hawkish Republicans such as Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOn The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week Trump declares national emergency at border Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans MORE (Fla.), who is weighing a presidential bid.

"One is not necessary and I don’t think we need to do it. We’ll see what the president lays out. That will be more dispositive,” Feinstein said of the national security speech Obama is expected to deliver Wednesday.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.) said congressional approval is not needed because the scope of the military campaign against ISIS is limited.

“It depends on the scale. If you talk about World War III, yes. If you’re talking about airstrikes, which are not even boots on the ground, I don’t think” Obama needs it, Levin said.

He said the 2003 invasion of Iraq needed an authorization because it involved 100,000 ground troops.

He said Muslim countries in the region that have a national security interest in defeating ISIS should provide ground troops to fight radical insurgents.

Rubio said he would vote for a use-of-force resolution but argued it is not needed.

“I would vote for it depending on how it’s structured but I don’t think [Obama] needs to” ask Congress for authority, he said. “I think he has authority to address the threat of ISIS.”

Rubio and other Republicans have called for Obama to lay out a clear strategy for defeating the militant Islamic movement and explain to the public why it is in the national interest to do so.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview MORE (R-S.C.), another Republican who favors a muscular foreign policy approach, called the War Powers Act, which requires the president gain permission from Congress for military engagements extending beyond 90 days, unconstitutional.

“I think the president has an abundant amount of authority to conduct operations. It would be good to have Congress on board. I don’t think the War Powers Act is constitutional,” he said. “If Congress doesn’t like what he’s doing, we can always cut the money off.”

But other Democrats and Republicans are pressing for a vote this month on a resolution authorizing military strikes.

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall Clinton on GOP promoting Trump 'stronger together' quote: Now copy my policies too MORE (D-Va.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D-Fla.) have been the most vocal proponents of Congress weighing in on the issue.

Nelson said an authorizing vote is inevitable but was unsure if it would happen before the midterm election. Vulnerable Democrats are worried about the potential political fallout.

“Sooner or later we will have a vote. I just don’t know if it’s in the next week and a half,” he said.

Nelson on Monday filed a resolution that authorizes airstrikes against ISIS but explicitly does not allow the deployment of ground troops.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), another potential White House hopeful, said Obama would disrespect Congress’s constitutional power to declare war by not seeking approval from the legislative branch.

“It would show a disregard for the Constitution and for the history of our country,” he said.

He said his support for an ISIS resolution is contingent on how it is crafted.

“It depends on what the wording of it is. I’ve said I would support airstrikes but we should vote on it,” he said.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations panel, said Obama must seek approval to use force against ISIS because combat operations might last three years.

He said he has been pressing the administration to make its case to Congress so that it can win “buy-in” from lawmakers for strikes.

However, Corker said he has heard from sources in recent days that the president will not submit an authorization request.

Other lawmakers said they wanted to hear from the president before taking a position.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) warned that past use-of-force resolutions have had unintended consequences because they previous administration interpreted them broadly.

“I want to see a strategy first. We should learn from the authorization for the use of military force on Sept. 11 and the Iraq one, which had many unintended consequences. People rushed into it. I’m not going to do that,” he said.

“I do want to see what the strategy is and what’s the breadth scope and length of what the president envisions and depending on that I may very well believe that we need an AUMF,” he added, referring to an authorization for the use of military force.

“Let see what the president has to say first on Wednesday night. I think it’s good that he’s presenting a plan,” said Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE (D-Va.), who is running for reelection this year. 

— This story was updated at 7:38 p.m.