Corker: Senate to unveil new war powers bill on Thursday

Corker: Senate to unveil new war powers bill on Thursday
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Tenn.) said Monday senators will unveil a new bill on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE's war powers this week as lawmakers try to revive a long-stalled debate.

"We'll release a copy of it on Thursday," Corker told reporters when asked about the status of the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman was mum on the specifics of the forthcoming bill, noting he still has final meetings pending with other senators to lock down the language. 

"I mean, we're in the same place we've been. We're working on the same principles we always have and are engaged with the administration and senators and, you know, I hope that in the committee we'll be successful," he said. 

Asked about his priorities while negotiating the war legislation, Corker signaled he was trying to "balance" the need for congressional oversight without tying the hands of the Trump administration.

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"Making sure the administration has the freedoms that are necessary to be successful but at the same time to ensure that Congress has an ongoing role, so I think it's a really good balance the way it is," he said. 

The legislation will mark the latest attempt by Congress to sunset the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, which authorized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. 

Corker noted the forthcoming legislation would only deal with terrorist organizations and not extend to using military force against the Syrian government. 

The Trump administration is currently weighing how to respond to an alleged chemical attack that killed at least 70 people in a town controlled by opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But GOP senators are quick to say that a "surgical" response, like the airstrike the Trump administration launched last year in response to a similar attack, would not require congressional approval. 

The forthcoming war bill comes as the Foreign Relations Committee is expected to mark up the legislation later this month. 

But senators must tackle engrained policy and political divisions if they want to ultimately get a new war authorization through the chamber. 

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans Pentagon sends Congress list of projects that could lose funds to Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege MORE (D-Va.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP McSally to back Trump on emergency declaration MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation last year that would authorize force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al Qaeda and the Taliban but require congressional oversight if the Trump administration wanted to expand the fight against the groups outside a set list of countries. 

But some Republicans have bristled at putting limitations on any administration's war powers. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims MORE (R-S.C.) introduced legislation in 2015 that would not include geographic limits for fighting ISIS and wouldn't prohibit the administration from using ground troops against the terrorist group.