Feb 20, 2017
Lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to officially declare war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and submit a resolution to Congress that limits his war powers.
Led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), 12 House Democrats and one House Republican sent a letter to Trump that asks the president to submit the resolution so that Congress can vote on a new Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
"For too many years, Congress has ignored these ongoing wars," the letter, obtained by Politico on Tuesday, states. "Our brave service members face countless dangers for our nation and we owe it to them to act on an AUMF without delay."
The letter, which was also signed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), urges Trump to create a draft war resolution that provides "specific information on the geographic, combatant and tactical scope" of the fight against ISIS, as well as a sunset date.
It should also repeal the 2001 AUMF that approved military action against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks--one that has no expiration date, has not been updated since passing, and which the lawmakers say has been used as a "blank check" for armed conflict.
The post-9/11 AUMF has no end date and has been broadly interpreted by the Bush and Obama administrations to allow the military to carry out strikes against suspected terrorists the world over, from the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, and even on the "high seas," according to the Congressional Research Service. There is concern among some congressional Democrats that Trump could use the broad powers of the 2001 resolution to further expand what he has called an ideological war against radical Islam.
Congress previously attempted to authorize the fight against ISIS after former President Barack Obama submitted a resolution in February 2015. But that effort failed, and resulted in Trump entering office with nearly unlimited power to wage war.
The sole Republican signatory to the letter is Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, who was also the only member of his party to back a Democratic bill to create an independent commission to investigate Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
In a separate statement, Lee--who was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 resolution--said the letter showed that bipartisan lawmakers "agree that blank checks for endless war are unacceptable and dangerous."
"For over 15 years, Congress has been missing in action and derelict in our duty to provide congressional oversight over military action," she said in her statement. "The Constitution is clear: The American people deserve a voice on matters of war and peace."
The letter comes one day after Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the U.S. military would likely be fighting ISIS in Iraq "for a while."
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