Kaine: Obama should end ISIS fight if Congress not 'on board'

Kaine: Obama should end ISIS fight if Congress not 'on board'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineGOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan MORE (D-Va.) on Tuesday urged the White House to seek congressional authorization to conduct airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or call off the military campaign against the terrorist group.

“If we’re going to engage this mission we got to do it right or not do it. And if we don’t get Congress on board with it, we aren’t doing it right,” Kaine said during a speech at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, stepping up his criticism of the Obama administration.


Kaine has emerged as one of the top lawmakers calling for President Obama to seek congressional backing for the strikes against ISIS. He is one of three Senate lawmakers who have introduced legislation for a new use of military force against the Islamist group.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J) has said he would consider Kaine’s bill, and the others, when Congress returns in November from its current recess. 

Earlier Tuesday, he said that the U.S. military mission had changed, requiring a new authorization.

Kaine called the White House’s reliance of the 2001 and 2002 authorizations to justify the campaign against ISIS an “extremely creative stretch” by the administration’s lawyers that “torture the English language.”

He didn’t spare his colleagues either, charging that by not being more vocal about having an up-and-down vote on the issue, Capitol Hill is embracing the policy of preemptive war favored by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Kaine said that many members of Congress were “unwilling to “take serious this most somber responsibility” of approving military action.

“It is just the height of public immorality to command people to risk their lives if we are not willing to do the simple and clear forward thing that is on our shoulders to do,” he said.

Kaine later said that he was “pretty confident” that vote would be held before Dec. 11, when a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating is due to expire, along with an amendment to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

The effort is one of the administration’s pillars for beating ISIS. 

Kaine predicted that the administration would ultimately “embrace” congressional authorization if a vote were held during a lame-duck session.

“I know the president would welcome us,” he told the audience.