Burgess Everett /Politico.com – 2015-01-14 12:29:27
Hill Leaders More Hopeful on
War Authorization after White House Meeting
Burgess Everett /Politico.com
WASHINGTON (January 13, 2015) — Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama used their meeting Tuesday to take a step toward finally authorizing the US air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Senate GOP leaders said after the White House meeting that Obama told them he’s preparing to send a legislative framework to Capitol Hill directing an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
The US has been bombing the Islamic State since September, and Republicans have frequently complained that Obama has not sent them language to consider, although Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to the Hill in December to lay out the administrator’s parameters for a congressional authorization.
Tuesday’s gathering was the first meeting of the year among Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a full contingent of congressional leadership, minus the injured Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. The topic of authorizing the continuing air war against ISIL emerged as a rare area of cooperation in a year that has so far featured several veto threats.
Obama “indicated he is working toward sending us an Authorization for the Use of Military Force,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said afterward. “A good starting place is for him to tell us what he wants and to provide the initial document off which we would work. And my feeling is that we’re going to get that sometime in the near future.”
Kerry testified last year in front of the then-Democratically controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress “should give the president the clear mandate and flexibility he needs to successfully prosecute the armed conflict against ISIL and affiliated forces.” He added that the authorization should not include a geographic limitation or bind the president’s hands in how the US responds “to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee.”
The committee passed an AUMF, but the full Senate never considered it — and now there’s a blank slate as Republicans prepare to write their own war authorization. GOP leaders said they expected significant direction from the White House after meeting with the president.
“He said he was sending one up,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said of an authorization blueprint. “He had told us after the election that he was open to an AUMF . . . but I think what’s different about today is [Obama] said: â€˜If it would be helpful for him to propose language, that they would do that.’ So that represents a development.”
After the meeting, the White House said Obama “committed to working with members of both parties on text for an AUMF that Congress can pass to show the world America stands united against ISIL.” A White House official added that “we look forward to sharing a draft with Congress that reflects their bipartisan input.”
House Speaker John Boehner’s office said he encouraged the president to go further and send Hill leaders a draft bill for Congress to consider. That would finally let lawmakers bless an air war that’s now being fought under two AUMFs used to justify the previous conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which some members in both parties want to repeal.
“Historically the Commander-in-Chief has identified the need for use of military force, written the AUMF, sent it to Capitol Hill, and worked to build a bipartisan coalition to secure its passage,” Boehner’s office said. “If the President takes these steps, Republicans will work with him to build bipartisan support for its enactment.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.