GOP lawmakers renew push for ISIS war authorization

GOP lawmakers renew push for ISIS war authorization
© Greg Nash

A pair of Republican members from the House and Senate are launching a new push for Congress to pass a war authorization for the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would authorize U.S. forces to target ISIS, following an identical bill in the Senate introduced by Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungFormer AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Sessions expected to announce plans to run for Senate Paul blocks vote on House-passed Syria resolution for second time MORE (R-Ind.).

“Our constituents send us to Congress to represent their views, and they should have their voices heard as we consider more military action in the fight against ISIS.” Banks said in a statement. “The Constitution grants Congress the power of declaring war, and we need to take that obligation seriously."

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The push for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) comes as the Trump administration considers tactics for stepping up the fight against ISIS, which the Pentagon delivered at the end of February.

The Pentagon also recently sent hundreds of Marines and Army Rangers to Syria amid preparations to retake Raqqa, though officials have said those deployments are not part of the administration's review.

The legal justification for the fight against ISIS has so far been the AUMF that was passed in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, while the 2002 AUMF that authorized the Iraq War has also intermittently been cited as justification.

But that justification has been controversial for some because ISIS did not exist when the AUMFs passed in the early 2000s. Others say that while the justification may be legally sound, passing a new AUMF would represent a show of support for U.S. troops.

“Our troops are bravely fighting overseas to keep us safe, and it is important for them and their families to know that Congress stands with them,” Young said in a statement Wednesday.

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 3 ways government can help clean up Twitter MORE requested Congress pass a new AUMF in 2015, but the proposal went nowhere, with Republicans arguing it was too restrictive and Democrats saying it was too broad.

Lawmakers have also introduced various AUMFs in recent years, but they fell flat over the same arguments.

Under the AUMF introduced Wednesday, the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs would be repealed. The new AUMF would give the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban, successor groups and associated forces.

The bill would also give the president the authority to detain fighters from ISIS and the other groups.

President Trump has said he wants to send newly captured fighters to Guantanamo Bay, but legal experts have said ISIS fighters would have a good case to challenge their detention in court since the 2001 AUMF does not name ISIS.

The bill would also require the president to send Congress a strategy to defeat ISIS within 30 days of its passage.

“Rather than continuing to fight ISIS under an authorization passed by Congress in 2001 to fight al Qaeda, it is time to pass a new authorization for the use of military force against ISIS," Banks said. "Congress should take a fresh look at the scourge of ISIS and evaluate the best strategy to defeat these radical extremists.”