A bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives have issued an open letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R – WI), calling for a vote on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS, citing “deepening entanglement” in the conflict by President Obama.
Under the War Powers Act, the president must seek Congressional approval for any overseas military operation within 60 days. The launching of the war against ISIS in summer of 2014 put that vote in the middle of a mid-term election, and most Congressional leaders on both sides simply chose to ignore the law.
Over a year later, the president made only one token effort to get an AUMF through, and that died when the White House openly bragged they made the wording so vague it would allow them to do basically anything they wanted. Without an authorization the war should’ve ended, instead it escalated.
The new letter particularly draws attention to the recent White House announcement of ground troops being deployed to Syria, something previous AUMF attempts explicitly ruled out, saying this is a “significant escalation” of the war and proof that Congress needs to at some point vote on the matter.
Though the authors of this letter are in opposition to the ISIS war, some proponents of the war are also seeking an AUMF, believing Congress should at the very least sign off on the matter on offer some guidelines on the scope of the war. At present, however, most of the leadership appears to remain opposed to a vote, and the White House seems comfortable with continuing the war indefinitely without any legal basis at all.