A bipartisan effort by Sens. Tim Kaine and Todd Young coalesced on Wednesday as they introduced legislation that would strip President Biden of his war powers after his airstrikes on Syria last week.
The bill would repeal the president’s authorization to use military force as he sees fit in the Middle East at a time that confrontation between the United States and Iran seems likely. The legislation was billed as a way to “formally end the authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars.”
Kaine (D-VA) and Young (R-IN) presented the measure in the wake of Biden’s go-ahead to launch missile strikes against Iranian-backed proxies in Syria and after rocket attacks on an Iraqi military base that housed our troops as well as civilian contractors. Lawmakers reportedly believe any military action in the Middle East should go through Congress before being implemented per the Constitution.
The proffered bill would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations that have resulted in what both sides of the political aisle are now calling the “forever wars.”
(Video Credit: CBC News: The National)
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the executive branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers,” Kaine declared. “Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary.”
“The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs that underpinned the war against Iraq need to be taken off the books to prevent their future misuse,” he continued. “They serve no operational purpose, keep us on permanent war footing, and undermine the sovereignty of Iraq, a close partner. I call on Congress to promptly take up this measure and for the Biden administration to support it to finally show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on these issues.”
I call on Congress to promptly take up our bill to repeal these outdated and unnecessary war authorities, and for the Biden Administration to support it. It’s time to show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on issues as serious as war.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) March 3, 2021
Because of terrorism and issues plaguing the U.S. at home and abroad, Congress has mostly abdicated its constitutional authority in regards to declaring war. Both Democrat and Republican presidents have used the authorizations to take military action. That power was used to go after al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban after 9/11. But the authorizations that Kaine and Young are focused on are the ones from 1991 and 2002 that deal with Iraq.
Those authorizations have been utilized to take on ISIS and other radical Islamist groups in the region.
“Congress has been operating on autopilot when it comes to our essential duties to authorize the use of military force,” Young stated. “The fact that authorities for both of these wars are still law today is illustrative of the bipartisan failure of Congress to perform its constitutionally-mandated oversight role.”
Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) all support the legislation put forth by Kaine and Young. The politicos ostensibly fear an all-out war with Iran.
Biden ticked off congressional Democrats when he ordered the strikes in Syria. They felt he should have consulted Congress before he took the military move and that he didn’t bother to notify them about the airstrikes. Biden claims he ordered the attacks in “self-defense.”
Kaine, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, told Politico that he found out about the strikes “on the news” and “I don’t think I should be learning about it that way.” He stated that because Biden had served previously as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, “he should understand more than most — more than just virtually anybody — that the Article I branch has got to have a role here.”
This is one more foreign relations/military struggle that Biden is having. Others include the debate on whether he should retain control of the “nuclear football” and the anger over his not punishing Saudi Arabia for the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
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