Sen. Tim Kaine: Don’t forget about AUMF to fight ISIS

Posted at 10:16 AM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 10:16:46-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Congress hasn’t made any progress on authorizing the U.S.’s ongoing war against ISIS, and Sen. Tim Kaine isn’t letting anyone forget it.

One day before the 10-month anniversary of the U.S.’s air campaign against the militant jihadist group, Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, slammed his fellow lawmakers for failing to do its job.

“The Congress hasn’t even done the job we’re supposed to do by the Constitution,” Kaine said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.” “We are not supposed to be at war, in a declared war on the say so of a president without a congressional vote and this is a very dangerous thing — very disrespectful of the troops that we’re asking to risk our lives.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to discuss formally authorizing the war against ISIS shortly after President Barack Obama sent Congress his proposal for that legal authorization, known as an AUMF. Even that hearing, though, diverged into a hearing on Iran and its growing influence in the Middle East — a hotter topic at the time.

Congress has largely dropped the ball since then and Kaine pointed out that the AUMF hasn’t made it to either the House or Senate floor for debate.

But it also took the White House six months to send an AUMF proposal.

Kaine said both the White House and Capitol Hill shoulder some of the blame for the drawn-out inaction.

“(Obama) had congressional leadership telling him we don’t want to talk about this before midterms. Once the midterms were over though it was up to Congress to take this matter up,” Kaine said.

Lawmakers have been loathe to act on the issue because of the political risk associated with a war vote, especially since the U.S. is already taking the fight to ISIS regardless of any new congressional authority. The Obama administration has said that while it can legally wage the fight against ISIS because of past AUMFs that authorized the Iraq War and the post-9/11 fight against al-Qaeda.

Kaine has needled both the White House and his fellow lawmakers to make AUMF action a priority, pointing to their shared constitutional responsibilities.

Kaine insisted that Congress needs to pass an AUMF to ensure U.S. “allies, adversaries and troops know Congress supports this mission.”