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Politico: House panel votes to force new debate on terror war

Zolo

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Source: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/29/congress-vote-authorize-war-islamic-state-240095
A powerful House committee voted unexpectedly Thursday to require Congress to debate and approve U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other far-flung countries — in a surprise victory for a longtime Democratic critic of the nearly two-decade-old war on terrorism.

The amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee of California — one of countless she has offered in recent years — is only a modest first step in getting Congress to update the authorization of military force that lawmakers adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Thursday's voice vote in the GOP-controlled Appropriations Committee is a symbolic move forward.

Even Republicans with military experience embraced Lee's defense spending bill amendment, which would repeal the 2001 authorization. They noted that the anti-terror struggle has evolved markedly since the days when U.S. troops hunted Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan, yet Congress has never debated and authorized the fight against newer extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Members of the military “notice that we don’t have the courage to debate this and to give them the authority to go do this," said Chris Stewart (R-Utah), who served in the Air Force and comes from a family of soldiers. "And I know that from my friends who are in the military right now."

Scott Taylor (R-Va.), a former Navy SEAL, echoed that sentiment. “I think we’ve seen a disproportionate sacrifice with the military community that has gone over and over again,” he said. “And I believe that we owe them the debate.”

Others on the appropriations panel credited Lee with pushing the fight for so long.

"When I came in this morning, I was going to vote 'no,'" Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said during the debate, telling Lee: "I love the fact that you are in a position to take a lot of positions that I don’t take. That’s what we need. I’m going to be with you on this, and your tenacity has come through."

Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) also turned to the San Francisco-area lawmaker. “You’re making converts all over the place, Ms. Lee," he said. "And indeed, you have been incredibly persistent and perseverant on this issue for a number of years. I think we recognize you, and obviously you have allies in the room. We share your concern.”

The vote comes as President Donald Trump is steadily delegating more authority to military commanders in the battle against the Islamic State and a host of other extremist groups on several continents, raising new concerns that civilians are exerting too little oversight.

Later Thursday, however, the rank-and-file's AUMF push was already hitting resistance from the congressional leadership. In an interview with Real Clear Politics, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the passage of Lee's amendment a "mistake."

"There’s a right way to deal with this, and an appropriations bill I don’t think is the right way to deal with this,” Ryan told the news organization. "What matters to me is that we don’t undercut the military, and whatever we do, we don’t put ourselves, meaning the military, in a disadvantageous position.”

Still, Thursday's action "sends a positive signal that the time is right to have this discussion," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has pushed similar measures in the Senate to no avail, told POLITICO. "It sets a deadline to try to force congressional action, and we need congressional action."

Lee's amendment would repeal the 2001 authorization within 240 days of the enactment of appropriations for fiscal year 2018 — forcing Congress to take up a new one.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said it's all the more urgent for Congress to pass a new military-force authorization.

“I think the 2001 [law] is very ill-fitting for today," said Flake, who is offering a new authorization bill with Kaine that he expects to be marked up in July. But he added: "You shouldn’t get rid of it and have nothing, so it’s time for a replacement. And I think we’ve got the bill to do it."

Only Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, spoke against Lee's amendment in Thursday's committee meeting, arguing that it would cripple the military's ability to conduct counterterror operations.

"The amendment is a deal-breaker and would tie the hands of the U.S. to act unilaterally or with partner nations with regard to Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists," Granger said.

Although the Pentagon has been reluctant to disclose the number of U.S. troops stationed throughout the Middle East, recent reports indicate approximately 8,400 are stationed in Afghanistan, 7,000 in Iraq, and more than 900 in Syria.

Lee told reporters after the vote that "this is one great first step. … Our troops deserve this kind of accountability from Congress.”

“Both Democrats and Republicans really understand the need to repeal this 2001 authorization," added Lee, who was the only member of Congress to vote against the post-Sept. 11 measure.

"I’ve been working on this for many, many years," she said. "As you know, I didn’t vote for it in 2001, because I knew then it was a blank check that would allow any president the authority to use force. We’ve been building support, bipartisan support. I’ve been working with my Republican colleagues for years to get to this point. So I hope the Republican leadership really understands now.”
 

DrSlek

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If I'm understanding this correctly, any kind of military action in another country now requires congressional approval?
 

Electric Eye

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If I'm understanding this correctly, any kind of military action in another country now requires congressional approval?

After 9/11 congress gave up that right and allowed the president to do whatever the fuck he wanted. The spineless congress didn't want to have their names attached to conflicts that might turn out bad for them politically and so it was a way to kill a bunch of people but never having to get called out on it. Congress is starting to roll back this strategy and surprisingly the republicans are also on board because Trump is too dangerous and they know it. This and the other actions are pretty much congress debating about them actually doing their godamn job for once.
 

Erevador

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Good to see.

Congress has continually abdicated more and more of its responsibility over the last couple decades. They've given the executive branch all the power and forced them to take all the blame. A move of cowardice.

Congress should debate if America should go to war.
 

Autodidact

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Good to see.

Congress has continually abdicated more and more of its responsibility over the last couple decades. They've given the executive branch all the power and forced them to take all the blame. A move of cowardice.

Congress should debate if America should go to war.

Bingo. Both parties realize that the rah-rah sentiment eventually fades; any war invariably becomes unpopular. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to be holding the potato when it gets to that point. Notice how we've pinned most of the blame for Iraq/Afghanistan on Bush rather than also blaming Congress for ceding more of its powers?
 

Agent Icebeezy

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I was listening to David Ignatius on Morning Joe and he was saying that some people on the ground, like in Syria, like the fact that strikes happen faster now with the delegation of duties but I still think that this is the best way going forward.
 

nephilimdj

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Fact these conficts are heavily clandestine is the reason they will go on even if congress limits them, every congressman will just be endlessly visited by US generals and CIA.
 

DrSlek

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After 9/11 congress gave up that right and allowed the president to do whatever the fuck he wanted. The spineless congress didn't want to have their names attached to conflicts that might turn out bad for them politically and so it was a way to kill a bunch of people but never having to get called out on it. Congress is starting to roll back this strategy and surprisingly the republicans are also on board because Trump is too dangerous and they know it. This and the other actions are pretty much congress debating about them actually doing their godamn job for once.

I thought the Pres. could order military action on foreign soil for 60 days without congressional approval...or is that how it's going to be again after this?
 

Balphon

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I thought the Pres. could order military action on foreign soil for 60 days without congressional approval...or is that how it's going to be again after this?

That would require Congress to actually assert its authority under the War Powers Act, which it has essentially never done.

As for the amendment, the AUMF is laughably overextended and should have been repealed years ago. This is a great idea, but what ultimately really needs to be reconsidered is the ultimate goal of US involvement in Iraq/Syria and especially Afghanistan actually is.
 

bionic77

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Kaine was on Pod Save the World recently discussing the 2001 authorization, its continued use and its legal framing.

It's been 16 years.
It won't happen but hopefully they wind it down.

As you said it has been 16 years and it has not accomplished anything positive beyond the killing of one person. Everything else about it has arguably made the situation worse. So by the metric I would say we have been losing this "war" for the past 16 years.
 

Blader

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This is long overdue. 80 percent of the Congress that voted for the original AUMF isn't even in office anymore.
 

night814

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That would require Congress to actually assert its authority under the War Powers Act, which it has essentially never done.

As for the amendment, the AUMF is laughably overextended and should have been repealed years ago. This is a great idea, but what ultimately really needs to be reconsidered is the ultimate goal of US involvement in Iraq/Syria and especially Afghanistan actually is.

"We are liberator's"

Bout time this happened, I was in high school when the "war on terror" "started" and seriously questioned our objectives then and would get rediculous answers like "they attacked us". This has gone on too long and has costed far too many lives and way too much money.
 

Remmy2112

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Didn't Obama ask Congress to do this regarding Syria and other regional issues for almost the entirety of his second term? And didn't Congress abdicate responsibility and refuse to do so?