Kaine, Flake introduce bill to authorize use of force against Islamic State

congressOn the 10-month anniversary of the U.S. launching military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced a bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as an amendment to the State Department reauthorization bill being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

By introducing this compromise language as a starting point for debate, Kaine and Flake hope that fellow members will see that a bipartisan authorization is within reach and that the same bipartisan spirit that led to unanimous committee passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act can prevail.

As defined by the authorization, the purpose of the U.S. mission against ISIL is to protect the lives of U.S. citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL. The Kaine-Flake language also specifies that the use of significant U.S. ground troops in combat against ISIL is not consistent with this purpose, except to protect lives of U.S. citizens from imminent threat. Other key provisions include a sunset after three years unless reauthorized; a repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF; and a clause that defines this authorization as the sole statutory authority for the war on ISIL, as opposed to the 2001 AUMF.

“It’s inexcusable that Congress has let 10 months of war go by without authorizing the U.S. mission against ISIL,” said Kaine, who has been a leading voice in the effort to pass a specific authorization for U.S. military action against ISIL that defines the scope of the mission. “I’m proud to join Senator Flake in introducing what we hope will serve as a starting point for debate in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Just as we saw with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, it’s possible to find bipartisan compromise on even the toughest of foreign policy issues. I challenge my colleagues to demonstrate the same backbone on the issue of ISIL and finally come together to do what’s right for our troops and our nation.”

“Our military has been waging war against ISIL since last September, and Congress has been appropriating funds to pay for those operations. It’s past time for Congress to formally voice its support of the mission itself,” said Flake. “The U.S. needs a bipartisan foreign policy, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should return to its traditional role in formulating that policy and authorizing these types of foreign engagements.”

The bipartisan amendment offered by Kaine and Flake today would authorize the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against ISIL based on the following key provisions:

1) A narrow purpose to protect the lives of U.S. citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL.  The amendment also specifies that the use of significant U.S. ground troops in combat against ISIL, except to protect lives of U.S. citizens from imminent threat, is not consistent with such purpose;

2) A sunset after three years unless reauthorized;

3) A repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force;

4) A clause to make this authorization the sole statutory authority for U.S. military action against ISIL (rather than the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force);

 

AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT

SEC. _1. SHORT TITLE.

This title may be cited as the “Authority for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Act”.

SEC. _2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The terrorist organization that has referred to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and various other names (in this resolution referred to as “ISIL”) poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.

(2) ISIL holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria and has stated its intention to seize more territory and demonstrated the capability to do so.

(3) ISIL leaders have stated that they intend to conduct terrorist attacks internationally, including against the United States, its citizens, and interests.

(4) ISIL has committed despicable acts of violence and mass executions against Muslims, regardless of sect, who do not subscribe to ISIL’s depraved, violent, and oppressive ideology;

(5) ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations.

(6) ISIL has targeted innocent women and girls with horrific acts of violence, including abduction, enslavement, torture, rape, and forced marriage.

(7) ISIL is responsible for the deaths of innocent United States citizens, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller.

(8) The United States is working with regional and global allies and partners to degrade and defeat ISIL, to cut off its funding, to stop the flow of foreign fighters to its ranks, and to support local communities as they reject ISIL.

(9) The announcement of the anti-ISIL Coalition on September 5, 2014, during the NATO Summit in Wales, stated that ISIL poses a serious threat and should be countered by a broad international coalition.

(10) The United States calls on its allies and partners, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, to join the anti-ISIL Coalition and defeat this terrorist threat.

(11) President Barack Obama, United States military leaders, and United States allies in the region have made clear that it is more effective to use the unique capabilities of the United States Government to support regional partners instead of large-scale deployments of United States ground forces in this mission.

SEC. _3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) Authorization.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate against ISIL or associated persons or forces as defined in section _6.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements.—

(1) Specific statutory authorization.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(a)(1)), Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(b)).

(2) Applicability of other requirements.—Nothing in this title supersedes any requirements of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).

(c) Purpose.—The purpose of this authorization is to protect the lives of United States citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL. The use of significant United States ground troops in combat against ISIL, except to protect the lives of United States citizens from imminent threat, is not consistent with such purpose.

SEC. _4. DURATION OF AUTHORIZATION.

The authorization for the use of military force under this title shall terminate three years after the date of the enactment of this Act, unless reauthorized.

SEC. _5. REPORTS.

The President shall report to Congress at least once every six months on specific actions taken pursuant to this authorization.

SEC. _6. ASSOCIATED PERSONS OR FORCES DEFINED.

In this title, the term “associated persons or forces”—

(1) means individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; and

(2) refers to any individual or organization that presents a direct threat to members of the United States Armed Forces, coalition partner forces, or forces trained by the coalition, in their fight against ISIL.

SEC. _7. REPEAL OF AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 116 Stat. 1498; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

SEC. _8. SOLE STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR MILITARY ACTION AGAINST ISIL.

This authorization shall constitute the sole statutory authority for United States military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and associated persons or forces, and supersedes any prior authorization for the use of military force involving action against ISIL.

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