When will Congress act on an AUMF for ISIS in Iraq and Syria?


On Thursday, the House passed the Iran review bill, sending it to Obama’s desk for signature. The president has said that he will sign the bill.

IranDealIf Obama finalizes a pact with Tehran, this legislation grants Congress 30 days to review the nuclear deal. Obama could waive sanctions against Tehran that were imposed by the executive branch but must leave in place sanctions that Congress previously drafted.

If the House and the Senate disapprove of the Iran deal, including overcoming a possible presidential veto, then Obama must leave in place those congressionally mandated sanctions. Any other outcome in Congress would allow Obama to go ahead with implementing all aspects of any nuclear deal.

Congress has invested a great deal of time and energy in obtaining a right to review an executive agreement — not a treaty subject to the advice and consent of the Senate — and to reject this nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran if it so chooses.

The rejection of the non-proliferation agreement and inspection regime with Iran would only leave one option to the Neocon Republicans who want to prevent Iran from ever acquiring even the capability of uranium enrichment to build a nuclear bomb. The Neocons would get their war on with Iran.

Neocon Republicans have spent a great deal of time trying to undermine these peace efforts, but they have utterly failed to act on pressing matters of war.

President Obama has been conducting military operations against the Islamist terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria under the War Powers Resolution of 1973 since August of 2014. He long ago exceed the 60 days for committing armed forces to military action, and a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization for use of military force or a declaration of war from Congress.

The administration and Congressional leaders additionally assert authority under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 (hint: not ISIS), and the 2002 AUMF against Iraq aka the Iraq Resolution to “strictly enforce through the U.N. Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (also not applicable to ISIS).

Congress left town in August 2014 to campaign for the midterm elections without taking up an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Congress refused to act on its own during the lame duck session after the election.

Obama Sent Congress a Draft War Authorization in February of 2015. Congress has failed to act on it. Congress is seeking to avoid taking any vote on sending American troops back into Iraq and to Syria, even though American troops already are actively engaged in Iraq, and as of yesterday, in Syria. Key ISIS Official Killed in Raid in Syria, U.S. Says.

Congress has entirely abdicated its war making powers under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Let’s be clear, there is no congressional authorization for the military actions the U.S. is taking in Iraq and Syria. None.

Republicans in Congress are in court suing the president for being a “tyrant” for provisions in the Affordable Care Act, and for his executive orders for deferrals of prosecution of immigration cases, but on the most fundamental power of Congress over war, Congress remains silent and allows President Obama to conduct a war in Iraq and Syria without any congressional authority and in violation of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Congress has conceded its constitutional prerogative to the executive branch in the conduct of war.

Why would Republicans do this, especially with a Democratic president whom they openly despise?

Because Republicans in Congress are looking forward to the next time that a Republican is in the White House. Republicans do not want to relitigate the divisive congressional battles over the 2001 AUMF and the 2002 Iraq Resolution. Their current inaction on an AUMF for ISIS is creating a dangerous precedent for future presidents — Republican or Democratic — to engage in a war without even asking Congress for authorization. Neocon Republicans want this precedent for what they hope will be a Republican president in 2016, so that they can get their war on with Iran.

The Founding Father’s never anticipated that Congress would wilfully abdicate its war powers to an imperial presidency. It is antithetical to American constitutional government. Congress needs to act now.