Bipartisan Lawmakers Call for New AUMF

An F-15E Strike Eagle departs after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on June 23, 2017. Congressional leaders continue to debate the need for a new authorization for the use of military force, which would specifically authorize the use of military force against ISIS and other terrorist groups. Air Force photo by SSgt. Michael Battles.

The inability to pass a new authorization for use of military force shows the lack of a “backbone” in Congress and the inability to show lawmakers’ support for the ongoing military operations, the bipartisan supporters of a new authorization said Wednesday.

Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have proposed a new AUMF that specifically would authorize the use of force against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, along with establishing a new process to broaden the location of new operations and additional targets.

An updated authorization is needed to reflect the fact that the fight against a non-state actor, such as al Qaeda, isn’t temporary. It is “going to be with us for a while,” Kaine said at a Wilson Center event in Washington, D.C.

The goal is to not only have a legal framework for current operations, but to show support to those in combat.

“They need to know that we’re behind them,” Flake said during the same event. “They need to know that we speak with one voice.”

The push for a new AUMF has gathered steam, with the House Appropriations Committee on June 29 calling for a new authorization, and Pentagon leaders stressing the need for one. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced a similar amendment to the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“We’ve got to have skin in the game. It’s too easy for members of Congress to simply blame the administration, Republican or Democrat, when they don’t agree with what’s being done with regard to foreign wars or conflicts,” Flake said.

A new AUMF needs to be bipartisan, because a partisan approach to an authorization “would be devastating,” Flake said.

The decision to approve the authorization should be tough and long deliberated because voting to approve war “should be harder than any other vote,” Kaine said.