President Barack Obama’s request for war authority to fight ISIS was on newsmakers’ lips during the Sunday talk shows, but whether Congress can actually deliver one didn’t become any clearer.
While there’s appetite in Washington to create a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that would define the fight against ISIS and enshrine it in legislation, legislators are expected to spar in the coming weeks over the shape of such a measure. Obama sent Congress his draft this week, six months after the U.S.-led coalition began pounding ISIS from the air.
“The President has given them a roadmap to follow. They can take that or they can come up with something else, but they can’t take a pass on this important issue,” White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
McDonough said the administration gave Congress “a good place to start,” but he is equally mindful that there is contentious disagreement over provisions included in the White House draft.
From a three-year limit to a check on launching “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling Obama’s proposal either too restrictive or too broad – but few are calling it just right.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, a hawkish Republican, is leading the charge for those who believe the President should get near-free rein to combat ISIS.
“I think we should not restrain the President of the United States,” McCain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Instead, Congress should use its constitutional “power of the purse” to sound off if the war effort heads down the wrong path.
“But to restrain him in our authorization of him taking military action I think, frankly, is unconstitutional and eventually leads to 535 commanders-in-chief,” McCain said referring to all members of Congress.
McCain said while it’s “probably appropriate” to debate a new authorization of military force, it’s also “not absolutely necessary” to pass a new AUMF.
In its military campaign against ISIS,