Schiff makes new push for ISIS war authorization

Kaine: No legal justification for Syria strike
Kaine: No legal justification for Syria strike

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  • Rep. Adam Schiff's bill would repeal the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations used to fight terrorism
  • The measure is nearly identical to what Schiff had introduced during the Obama administration

Washington (CNN)Rep. Adam Schiff kicked off a new push Thursday for Congress to finally vote on the war against ISIS.

The California Democrat introduced a new version of his bill for a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Schiff's bill would repeal the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations still used to fight terrorism across the globe with a measure that expires after three years and makes it easier for Congress to put a check on the Executive Branch's use of ground combat forces in the terror fight.
    "For far too long, Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to authorize military action abroad, effectively ceding the war-making power to the Executive Branch," Schiff said in a statement announcing the new legislation.
    The measure is nearly identical to what Schiff had introduced during the Obama administration. Since the Obama administration first started bombing ISIS in 2014, a small bipartisan group of lawmakers has pressed for Congress to take up a new war authorization without success.
    Now Schiff and others, like Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, are hoping that the Trump administration -- and a recent uptick in military action in Syria -- can finally get Congress off the sidelines.
    So far, congressional leaders have shown no indication they intend to take up a new war authorization, short of a larger military campaign against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Congressional leaders have sided with the White House's view it already has the legal authority needed to conduct strikes in Syria under the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations.
    This month's US missile strikes in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack prompted a new wave of calls for Congress to vote on the military action, but Schiff, Kaine and others are still focused on an AUMF for the ISIS campaign and not the Assad regime.
    Congress has been reluctant to take up a war authorization for several reasons, including the potential for political fallout should the military action be unsuccessful or unpopular, a backlash presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced over her Iraq War vote.
    There are also disagreements over the scope of a war authorization -- many Republicans are opposed to any restrictions on the commander in chief's ability to deploy combat forces, while many Democrats don't want to vote for an authorization that allows for an open-ended commitment for US troops.
    Schiff's bill attempts to thread that needle by allowing the President to deploy combat troops, but giving Congress a special procedural ability to bring up a vote on repealing or modifying the AUMF if combat troops are deployed.
    In the Senate, Kaine is working on a new approach to a war authorization with Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain.