Levin bill would ease troop deployment against ISIS

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinThe Trumpification of the federal courts Global health is the last bastion of bipartisan foreign policy Can the United States Senate rise to the occasion? Probably not MORE (D-Mich.) filed a bill Tuesday that would make it easier for the president to deploy troops against non-state actors, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The War Powers Resolution allows the president to deploy troops into hostilities for 60 days without a declaration of war from Congress. Levin's amendment would allow President Obama to send troops to fight ISIS for longer, unless Congress objects.

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Levin, who retires by the end of this year, said the approach would allow the president to take "decisive action to address imminent terrorist threats," but reserve a clear role for Congress through a resolution of disapproval.

"I believe this approach would provide greater clarity for the Executive and Legislative branches and I hope a future Senate will consider it," he said.

The bill, if passed, could make it unnecessary for a separate authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, although it would not necessarily exclude one.

Lawmakers struggled during the lame-duck session to work on an AUMF, which would authorize the war against ISIS, but also limit that authority.

The White House has filed several notifications under the War Powers Resolution, but has not allowed it to limit the deployment of 1,600 troops since June to Iraq so far. Nor has the White House allowed the resolution to limit airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which commenced in early August.

The White House maintains it has all the authorities it needs to act against ISIS under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

Levin noted that the resolution has been mostly ignored by administrations since the 1990s, and needs to be updated.

"Some believe that the continuing hostilities are a violation of the War Powers Resolution. Others argue that the War Powers Resolution hasn’t been triggered, because our military actions can be justified under earlier authorizations," he said.

"Either way, it is clear that the 60-day limitation in the Resolution has had no more force and effect in the case of the battle against ISIS than it did in earlier actions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere," he said.

"I believe that the War Powers Resolution needs to be modernized to make it more relevant to the situations our military is likely to face in the 21st century – in particular, the ongoing struggle against new and evolving terrorist groups," he said.