As the battle against ISIS continues in the Middle East, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday that he expects the White House to send Congress a new authorization for a use of military force agreement within a “matter of days.”
Since President Barack Obama announced airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in early September, Boehner -- as well as some Senate Democrats -- have called on the administration to send forward a new AUMF that offers a specific plan to combat the terrorist group.
Boehner told NBC News that passage of the first AUMF to combat terrorism since 2001 would not be an “easy lift” and that it was “going to be incumbent upon the president to go out there and make the case to the American people for why we have to fight this fight.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has also indicated support of a new AUMF but laid out some benchmarks she said must be met to garner support from the Democratic side: “What would be the length of time? Two, what would be the geography of it, the extent of geography? Third what is the scope of the authorization?”
Pelosi also mentioned that she would like to see a repeal of the 2002 AUMF, which allowed for the U.S. to attack Iraq. She indicated she supported maintaining the authorization given to the president to combat terrorism passed shortly after September 11th 2001.
Currently, supporters of the administration’s campaign against ISIS point to the 2002 Iraq AUMF as the measure which allows airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. The White House says that AUMF, coupled with the 2001 measure, allow for the current campaign against ISIS that has spread into Syria.
Yet many members of Congress have been skeptical of the authority given by the old AUMFs. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in June of 2014 of ISIS: “In the current Iraq crisis, neither authorization applies. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not an al-Qaeda affiliate — in fact, it is openly battling with al-Qaeda in Syria.” By moving forward with a new AUMF, the administration will be seeking to satisfy those in Congress who want input on their strategy.
Boehner said to expect a “rigorous set of hearings” and a floor vote on the new AUMF by the spring. The process could provide for some interesting bedfellows in Congress—progressives opposed to escalation of fighting in the Middle East, libertarian isolationists and deficit hawks on both sides.