The escalation of the US war against ISIS into a ground war, almost immediately followed by an announcement of plans to extend the ground war into neighboring Syria, is fueling growing calls from both parties in Congress to finally see the war brought to a vote.
Under the War Powers Act, a president is legally obliged to get Congressional approval for any war lasting longer than 60 days. The ISIS war began well over a year ago, and has been repeatedly escalated, with no Congressional vote ever taking place.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D – VA), one of those calling for the vote to finally happen, says many in Congress prefer the vote to never take place, believing Congress can’t be held accountable for the war going poorly if they never authorized it in the first place. Kaine says many still regret their votes for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, lamenting the huge death toll, and don’t want to be on the hook for another major war.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D – CT) concurred, saying that if the authorization for the war passes Congress “owns the strategy,” and that absent that authorization, they can simply duck blame.
Rep. Tom Cole (R – OK), another proponent for the vote, says that not having a vote is just not possible anymore, citing the mission creep of the growing war as meaning that Congress is gradually giving up its power to the president by allowing him to unilaterally launch and escalate a war for years on end.
All this is true, but the question still remains if these growing calls are enough to get the leadership to finally hold some votes, as most of them so far appear content to stay the coarse and ignore the conflict as long as possible.