WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff will introduce a bill Tuesday that provides direct authorization to fight ISIS while also sunsetting the two laws the administration has used to justify current efforts against the militants.
Schiff's authorization for use of military force bill allows the president to use "all necessary and appropriate" force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It also immediately sunsets the 2002 Iraq War AUMF, and does the same to the 2001 AUMF 18 months later.
Regardless of whether a new AUMF is passed, President Obama has said he has all the authority needed to fight ISIS right now from the 2001 and 2002 AUMF laws. It's a justification that's drawn some criticism — from those who question whether ISIS is covered under the 2001 AUMF at all, to others who note that Obama once vowed to repeal the 2001 AUMF and is now using it to justify this new campaign.
Schiff told BuzzFeed News he wants to pass the bill not necessarily to directly affect operations overseas, but to protect Congress's role in declaring war down the road.
"It will preserve Congress's role in the decision about when we send our sons and daughters to war. I'm as much concerned about the future as I am the present," Schiff said. "If Congress just sits on its hands, it will rue the day that it did because it will set a precedent."
Though the effort is unlikely to reach a vote as election season nears — House Speaker John Boehner hasn't said whether he'd bring a vote to the floor — Schiff said he hopes the bill can at least be a conversation starter for a vote some time during the lame-duck session.
Republican Rep. Frank Wolf also introduced an AUMF directly addressing ISIS, though his doesn't seek to change the other AUMF laws. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and his Foreign Relations Committee are also said to be working on legislation to authorize force against ISIS.
Schiff said he hoped his version was broad enough to draw support from all sides.
As of Monday afternoon, Schiff said his bill has no co-sponsors. Schiff, who has long championed the effort to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMF laws, chalked that up to still only having an early version of the draft legislation, but also noted seeing some "timidity" from members.
"There's a growing level of support that Congress really needs to act to authorize what the president has requested," Schiff said. He added that there is "irony" in the fact that the administration "believes it's necessary for us to authorize the funding but not to authorize the war effort."
The White House recently called on Congress to approve "Title 10" authority, which would allow the U.S. to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting against ISIS. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday he didn't see any issue with asking Congress to fund a program they don't yet have all the details about.
"The president believes it is a priority for the administration to be given the authority it needs to begin training and equipping — ramping up our assistance to Syrian opposition fighters," Earnest said. "We're doing that principally because the president believes we need boots on the ground to take the fight to ISIL in Syria.
"We need to make sure that we are improving the ability and expanding the capacity of Syrian fighters to take the fight to ISIL in their own country," he added.
Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
Contact Jacob Fischler at email@example.com.
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