Tim Kaine reiterates call for Congress to authorize military action against ISIL

tim kaine-newIn the wake of the Paris attacks last week, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate floor today to renew their call for Congress to debate and vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL. In June 2015, Kaine and Flake introduced compromise authorization languageas a starting point for debate, building upon previous efforts in the Foreign Relations Committee and the President’s proposal. It was also an effort to prove to fellow members that a bipartisan authorization was within reach.

“This [ISIL] threat is mutating and growing, and at the end of last week on Friday the 13th, we saw the horror of ISIL with the grim assassination of innocents as they were enjoying dinner or going to music concerts or watching soccer games in Paris,” Kaine said in remarks on the Senate floor today. “ISIL put out a video a few days ago threatening similar attacks on Washington. ISIL is not going away. …  And so the question is, how long will Congress continue to be silent about this? Congress has seemed to prefer a strategy of ‘criticize what the President’s doing’ … but it’s not enough for this body that has a constitutional authority in matters of war to just criticize the commander in chief. What we’ve done is sat on the sidelines and criticized, but we have not been willing either to vote to authorize what’s going on, vote to stop what’s going on or vote to refine or revise what’s going on.”

“To the extent that the administration’s strategy is not what we would want it to be, they have to present a strategy to Congress,” Kaine continued. “Then we ask tough questions of the witnesses and we refine it and it gets better — and we do that all in the view of the American public so they can be educated about what’s at stake. When you don’t have the debate, you don’t put before the American public the reasons for the involvement, and that is desperately needed.”

“With thousands of servicemembers in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and attacks happening all over the world, the notion that a fourteen-year old statute aimed at another enemy is any kind of a substitute for Congressional authorization to go after ISIL is insufficient,” said Flake. “Operation Inherent Resolve warrants its own authorization not just because of its size and duration, because Americans are dying in pursuit of it, or because it is directed against an enemy that’s a threat to humanity. This mission warrants its own authorization because we want it to succeed. We want the world to know that the United States speaks with one voice.”