10.08.14

Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Seeking Use of Force Authorization See Their Moment

Michael Crittenden of The Wall Street Journal reports on Authorization to Use Military Force bills:

Two summers ago, Rep. Adam Schiff’s calls for Congress to reassert itself in determining whether and how the U.S. goes to war was met with consternation and questions from colleagues.

“Why are you doing this? It’s something the leader of the progressive caucus would do, not you?” Mr. Schiff remembers a colleague asking him on the House floor.

Mr. Schiff had recently introduced a measure putting an end date on the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against terrorists, and the colleague wanted to know why. Raising concerns about lawmakers’ constitutional duty “was a minority position then,” the California Democrat said.

For a vanguard of Capitol Hill lawmakers who have been outspoken on the need for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to declare war, there may be no better time to force a reckoning on the issue. Eager to regain an authority that has been gradually ceded to the White House over the last 70 years, these lawmakers hope the debate over the U.S. response to Islamic State fighters can start a reversal of course.

Lawmakers left Washington last month without holding a vote authorizing the Obama administration to use force against the extremist group. Deferring to the White House’s assertion it had the authority to conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria under existing congressional authorizations from more than a decade ago, Congress instead voted on a narrow measure to arm and train Syrian rebels.

But there’s a growing call from both ends of the ideological spectrum for Congress to hold a more substantive debate during the lame-duck session after November’s midterm elections. Mr. Schiff said the issue has reached a “fever pitch” among his colleagues, while in the Senate, bipartisan groups are discussing a range of options to strictly define the duration and extent of the U.S. efforts to combat Islamic State troops.

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By:  Michael Crittenden
Source: Wall Street Journal