U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement on the President’s comments in a news conference on Wednesday.
“I welcome President Obama’s remarks today about the importance of working in a bipartisan manner with Congress on a positive agenda for the American people. While there are many important issues to tackle in 2015 under new Senate leadership, we have two months left in the current Congress to get important work done. I was especially heartened to hear the President say he will engage with Congress right away on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force to combat ISIL, a step I have urged the White House to take for months. In addition to calling for this process and debate, I submitted a draft authorization in September for consideration in the Foreign Relations Committee. I look forward to an open debate and vote on the floor – it is what our Constitution demands and what our servicemembers deserve.”
In September, Kaine submitted a proposal meant to reinforce the President’s strategy against ISIL, as well as set key limitations he hopes will be included in final authorizing language for broader Congressional consideration. His authorization is specific to ISIL and supports President Obama’s key pillars: a multinational effort to degrade and destroy ISIL, the use of necessary and appropriate force in a campaign of air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and the provision of military equipment to appropriately vetted forces in Iraq and Syria, including the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters, and other legitimate, appropriately vetted, non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria. It also includes four key limitations: 1) no U.S. ground troops; 2) repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force; 3) sunset after one year; 4) a narrow definition of “associated forces.”