Republicans and Democrats are equally critical of President Barack Obama’s request for military authorization against the Islamic State, which will receive its first hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
Giving testimony to the Committee will be Secretary of State John
Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. The resolution proposed by
President Obama in February would grant a three-year time frame
for the campaign against the Islamic State (IS, also known as
ISIS/ISIL) and repeal the 2002 authorization used for the Iraq
war. It would also grant permission to continue the maintenance
of 3,000 troops already on the ground, and the campaign of
airstrikes in Iraq that were extended to Syria.
“The resolution we’ve submitted…does not call for the
deployment of US ground forces to Iraq or Syria,” Obama said
in February. “It is not the authorization of another ground
war, like Afghanistan or Iraq…as I’ve said before, I’m convinced
that the United States should not get dragged back into another
prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That’s not in our
national security interest and it’s not necessary for us to
Republicans, however, have said they would like to see a
full-scale military campaign against IS before signing an
Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
“This AUMF, hardly anybody supports it that I know of,”
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) told Reuters.
Why Obama’s ISIS War Powers Request Is Going Nowhere http://t.co/j7372k0yw5
— Defense One (@DefenseOne) March
The panel’s chairman, Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), said he
plans one or two more hearings. However, without support from
Democrats, he is unsure how the authorization would move ahead.
Libertarian and progressive anti-war members want no
intervention, and Democrats who do approve the use of force would
like it limited in geography, length, and scope.
Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign
Relations Committee, does not support Obama’s plan as proposed.
Both lawmakers and aides have said they expect it will be months,
if ever, before the full House and Senate vote.
“Time is not on our side,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff
(Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee
and a leading advocate for a new AUMF, told Reuters.
“The longer we go into this conflict without a resolution,
the more members become comfortable with the status quo and
failure to act…that would be an appalling result,” he
Movement Against Obama’s Request For Sweeping War Powers Gains
Steam – http://t.co/hqTn0kqlAy
— Hashim Siddique (@siddiquehash) February
A White House official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of
anonymity said the Obama administration is open to reasonable
adjustments that can gather bipartisan support, but that it is up
to Congress to pass a new authorization.
Obama began his military campaign against IS in August 2014,
using the 2002 war powers authorization used for the Iraq war.
The White House indicated in February that the president doesn’t
need new authorization to continue operations, although
congressional members did raise questions about Obama
overstepping his constitutional authority with his use of the
2002 war powers.