House Democrats seeking compromise on AUMF

House Democrats seeking compromise on AUMF
© Getty Images

Some Democrats are signaling they may be ready to work on a compromise with Republicans on legislation authorizing the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Hill he will introduce a new proposal within the coming days that would not prohibit using ground troops in combat but would require a vote should the president want to use them.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We're still working out details," Engel said on Thursday. "Certainly we don't want to tie the president's hands if there's a rescue or an emergency."

The issue of ground forces in combat has been one of the top sticking points between Republicans and Democrats. It's not clear how many Democrats would back Engel's proposal — particularly progressive Democrats who oppose the idea of U.S. troops in ground combat entirely. 

The proposal by the hawkish Engel goes beyond the White House proposal sent to Congress last February, which did not authorize the use of troops in "enduring offensive ground combat operations." 

Republicans opposed the language, arguing it could tie military commanders' hands, and Democrats feared it was not restrictive enough to prevent another open-ended, large-scale ground war in the Middle East.

Engel's proposal comes after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) asked Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and others to begin discussing with Republican members of their committees what kind of measure they would support.

Royce has scheduled three listening sessions over the next couple of weeks, with the first one held on Thursday, as first reported by The Hill. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Bolton, Pompeo undercutting Trump's attempts to stay out of war MORE (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, is advocating an even less restrictive proposal.

His proposed authorization for use of miltary force (AUMF) would not ban the use of ground troops in combat, but would allow any member to call for a vote to repeal or revise the authorization if the president should decide to use them. 

He acknowledged that progressive Democrats do not support using ground troops in combat but said his proposal would contain items supported by both parties. 

"Conservatives will applaud the fact there's no limit on ground troops, and that it authorizes force against al Qaeda, [ISIS] and the Taliban. Democrats can applaud the fact that the authorization will be sunset in three years, and that there's a privileged motion to vote on any introduction of troops," he said of his proposal. 

Schiff's last proposal would not have authorized the use of ground forces in combat. 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, remained more skeptical of a bipartisan deal.

"As I said before, there's a lot of anxiety on my side of the aisle about the president, whether he really wants to beat ISIS or not. And so you're asking people to authorize the use of military force when they don't have confidence in the commander in chief and whether he's all in on the mission, and that makes it hard," he said on Thursday. 

"But that's why we're going to listen and talk and try some things out," he added.

Schiff, who has been one of the earliest advocates for passing a new AUMF for the war against ISIS, said he is encouraged by what he says is now considerable interest in moving forward.  

"Anything that tries to bridge the gap between the two parties is going to be a challenge," he said.

But, he said, "I'm very encouraged that a window has opened, and they're moving forward with this. ... There's really a deep interest in moving forward and that's very positive. I hope the president will address it in his speech next week."

Reps. Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE (R-Va.), Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing MORE (D-Vt.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTexas raises age to purchase tobacco to 21 Texas raises age to purchase tobacco to 21 Democrats push to make national security a 2020 wedge issue MORE (D-Va.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Trump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonHow Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA Republicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment MORE (D-Fla.) have also introduced AUMF proposals.