A closed briefing in the Senate today has ended with officials saying that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for the ISIS war is a “nonstarter,” after White House officials, principally special envoy Brett McGurk, informing the Senate leadership that such a vote was unwelcome.
Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R – TN) previously indicated that he was only interested in a new AUMF authorization in the case that the Obama Administration indicated that such a vote would give them more flexibility in fighting the war. Officials today made it clear they believe they have more flexibility in continuing the war with no authorization at all.
Corker has suggested he’s going to take the White House’s word for it, and said Tuesday that a AUMF vote “doesn’t make a lot of sense” because it would make the nation appear divided on the ongoing escalation of the conflict.
Which actually is the case. As President Obama continues to escalate the war far beyond what he initially promised, a growing number of Congressmen in both parties are complaining that the war is spiraling out of control and desperately needs some reining in.
The leadership is mostly not on board with this, however, viewing a debate on the war as too politically volatile, and preferring the status quo, a totally extra-legal war whose mounting failures can be blamed wholly on the White House, on the grounds that Congress never gave it an okay.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D – MD) similarly rejected the idea of debating the AUMF after today’s briefing, saying there was no real chance of getting enough people on board to pass an authorization at any rate, and suggesting it would be easier to simply ignore the matter.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) was even more direct, saying he in general doesn’t believe in authorizations for war, and believes that the president has “all the power he needs” to unilaterally launch and carry out wars without any Congressional involvement. That appears to be the White House’s position as well.