Top GOP senator doubts ISIS authorization would carry over

The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Tuesday that any measure authorizing the use of military force against Islamic militants approved this week would not serve as a template in the 114th Congress.

“I would doubt it,” Sen. Robert Corker (R-Tenn.), the current ranking member on the committee, told reporters.

He predicted that the administration’s strategy for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is “likely to evolve significantly” in the coming months.


“Hopefully, it will change because there isn’t one today, so you would add some meat to it,” Corker said. “I think [the administration is] still trying to figure out the best way forward.”

He spoke just hours before the panel was scheduled to hear from Secretary of State John Kerry.

The hearing’s timing was worked out under a compromise last week between Corker and panel Chairman Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Spending bill faces Senate scramble MORE (D-N.J.). The hearing was originally supposed to take place Monday, followed by a closed-door intelligence briefing and eventually a full committee markup of an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

That timeline has since changed, with the panel only hearing Kerry before a markup on Thursday, potentially the last day of the 113th Congress.

Corker derided the new schedule.

“I know they don’t want to be here today. If you notice there’s nobody from the Pentagon, there’s no classified briefings regarding intelligence, only this briefing by Kerry,” he said. “I think he felt like he had to come, but I know it’s not their choice to be talking about the AUMF at this point in time.”

Corker labeled the process to date “hugely lacking.”

He also took issue with an authorization proposed by panel member Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). That version would bar the use of ground troops and only authorize the anti-ISIS campaign for one year.

“It’s almost an ISIS protection plan isn’t it?” Corker asked, noting that the authorizations under which the administration has been operating allow for all means of force for defeating al Qaeda and its affiliates.

He said a "big part" of this week's process is for panel Democrats to go "on record as to wanting no boots on the ground. I got it,” he said.

On Tuesday’s hearing, Corker said he “would guess that our greatest goal would be to make sure that people don’t get so dug in this week that as the issue evolves we can’t come together on something in a strong bipartisan way.”

Menendez, meanwhile, sounded more upbeat about the looming session.

“I hope that it will give us further insights on the strategy as to how we continue to evolve our fight against” ISIS, he told reporters.

Menendez noted that the last time Kerry appeared before the committee he said he would “welcome” an AUMF.

“We are making sure we take advantage of the welcome mat moving forward,” Menendez said.

He also said there would be a committee vote on a measure on Thursday and he would “love to have a vote on the floor.”

A full Senate vote might not take place as lawmakers rush to wrap up the lame-duck session.