House GOP to start listening sessions on ISIS war measure

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House Republicans will start listening sessions Thursday to discuss a measure authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), The Hill has learned.  

The sessions will be held by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), whose panel would have jurisdiction over the authorization, according to a committee aide on background. 

{mosads}“I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions. As I’ve said before, if we can get an AUMF [authorization for use of military force] done that ensures our commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat ISIS, I want to move it,” said Royce in a statement.  

“But ultimately, it is going to be up to President Obama to lead. Containment has failed. The administration already has the authority it needs to take the fight to these radical Islamist terrorists, and it needs to step up.” 

The three sessions will be held on Jan. 7 at 3 p.m., Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 12 at 10 a.m.

Royce has been holding informal discussions on an AUMF for more than a month now, and in December convened a meeting with his subcommittee chairs to discuss the issue.

The sessions will be among Republican members of the committee for now. They are intended to gauge what Republicans would like to see in a new AUMF, and not to produce a concrete proposal. 

Listening sessions on the conference level are a likely next step, the aide said. 

Several members of Congress have introduced proposals for a new AUMF, but action had stalled over disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over what a new authorization would look like. 

The White House last February forwarded a draft proposal to lawmakers, but Republicans panned it as too restrictive and Democrats as not restrictive enough. 

The measure did not authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” would expire in three years, and would repeal the 2002 AUMF for the war in Iraq but not the 2001 AUMF for the war in Afghanistan. 

The Obama administration also maintains it currently has the authority it needs to execute the war under the 2001 AUMF. 

However, after ISIS conducted attacks in Paris in November and helped inspire attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., in December, there is growing urgency among lawmakers to discuss a strategy against ISIS and authorize U.S. military action that began in August 2014. 

Some Republicans also say they want the White House to submit a strategy before authorizing the war. Lawmakers are also leery of taking a potentially costly vote on the war, especially during an election year. 

 House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last month expressed support for considering an AUMF. 

The sessions are a first step by Royce to follow up on a request by Ryan to start the conversation on what a new AUMF would look like. 

“It would be a good symbol of American resolve to have a new AUMF to go after ISIS, to thoroughly defeat and destroy ISIS,” Ryan told a group of reporters in his office on Dec. 18, according to The Huffington Post. 

“But what we’re not going to do is pass an AUMF that prohibits the next president from doing what he or she needs to do to destroy ISIS. And so far I’ve seen a lot of proposals that, I think, handcuff the next president,” he said. 

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