SENATE

AUMF against ISIS, Al Qaeda introduced in the Senate

Brooke Singman

Senators Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine introduced on Thursday a bipartisan Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Taliban that, if passed, could be the first such resolution since 2002.

Flake, R-Ariz., and Kaine, D-Va., both sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and are pushing to authorize the use of military force against Islamist terrorist organizations and establish a process for congressional oversight of where fighting against ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban can occur, beyond Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

The AUMF would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF, which gave the Bush administration authorization to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those who planned, aided and carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The new resolution would also repeal the 2002 AUMF against Iraq.

“It is our constitutional duty in Congress to authorize military action, yet we’ve stood silent as administrations have stretched the 2001 AUMF far beyond its original purpose,” Kaine said, adding that most current members of Congress were not yet-elected during the vote for the original AUMF. “It is time for Congress to fulfill its duty by putting its stamp on the current fight and to reaffirm its commitment to defeating ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban.”

The AUMF would allow for an expedited process to reauthorize the AUMF in five years, and would require President Trump to report to Congress with a strategy to “protect the U.S. from ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban.”

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama relied on AUMF authorities to pursue any military action against Islamist terrorist organizations. Obama proposed AUMF in 2015, specifically to target forces fighting “for, alongside, or on behalf of,” ISIS, but did not include authority for U.S. Armed Forces to endure ground combat operations, but Congress declined to consider the proposal.

Other lawmakers, like Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. and Rep. Adam Kingzinger, R-Ill., proposed legislation, but neither were considered.

“When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than 15 years, and counting,” Flake said. “It is past time for Congress to voice its support for the war against ISIS, something many military officers and diplomats working to defeat ISIS have advocated for, and for Congress to reassert some of the authority it has abdicated over the years.”

Former deputy assistant secretary of defense detainee affairs, now senior legal fellow at Heritage Foundation, Cully Stimson, broke down the difference between war and AUMF.

“AUMF is not a declaration of war, it’s broader,” Stimson told Fox News. “A declaration of war is against a country, AUMF can be against non-state actors, like terrorist groups.”

Fox News Contributor Gen. Jack Keane told Fox News that a new AUMF is necessary.

“The one we’re using now is dated and not truly appropriate for ISIS. Our military is always strengthened when Congress is in support of them,” Keane told Fox News. “If Congress leaves the strategy and force levels to the executive branch and authorizes the use of military force for a specific purpose, then that is very appropriate.” 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.