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April 27, 2017

Rep. Schiff Introduces Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban – “Congress Must Debate and Vote on Any New War”

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. He was joined by nine of his Democratic colleagues.

The Authorization introduced by Rep. Schiff would sunset the 2001 AUMF and 2002 AUMF immediately and replace them with a single authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban. The resolution would sunset in 3 years. It authorizes the President to deploy combat ground troops against the covered entities without geographical restriction; however it also provides a special mechanism to allow a privileged motion to repeal or modify the authorization in the event the President deploys ground forces in combat. Finally, it would put in place new reporting requirements both to Congress and to the public as to how the authorities are used and against what groups.

“For far too long, Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to authorize military action abroad, effectively ceding the war-making power to the executive branch,” said Schiff. “More than 15 years later, our operations against groups as diverse as the Taliban in Afghanistan, al Qaeda in Yemen, and ISIS in Syria are authorized under a 60 word authorization passed days after the attacks. As deployments to Iraq and Syria increase, and with complicating factors like the recent cruise missile strike against the Assad regime in response to the use of chemical weapons, Congress cannot stand on the sidelines any longer and must debate and vote on any new war. Congress must demand of this Administration and future Administrations the legal justifications for any military action, and hold them accountable for those actions.”

For many years, Rep. Schiff along with other members has pushed Congress to sunset the 2001 AUMF and to debate and vote on a new authorization. In light of the increased troop presence in Syria and Iraq and recent attacks by both the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan, a new AUMF that reestablishes Congress’ vital role is critical. A new AUMF, guided by principles that are responsive to the war we are fighting today, will provide clear authority to the President and Armed Forces for the campaign against ISIS, al Qaeda and its affiliates, and the Taliban. It will also send a message of unity to our military forces and strengthen the international coalition to defeat these enemies.

A nearly identical resolution circulated by Rep. Schiff last year received praise from observers across the legal spectrum, including Jack Goldsmith, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush, as well as law professors Steve Vladeck and Jen Daskal, and Marty Lederman. Just this week, Schiff and Senator Tim Kaine sent a letter to President Trump asking that he detail the legal basis for the strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria on April 6th, which has yet to be provided to Congress and the American people.  


The legislation was introduced by Schiff with Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Tim Walz (D-MN) as original co-sponsors.