White House hits 'AWOL' Congress for not granting war powers in ISIS fight

Washington (CNN)Remember the AUMF?

Lawmakers may have let President Barack Obama's request for the authorization of military force against ISIS gather dust, but the White House insisted Friday it hasn't given up on the measure, which was introduced in February.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest hammered lawmakers -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who have stalled on the war powers resolution, saying the delay has been a "grave disappointment" to the White House.
And he characterized Congress' unwillingness to vote on the plan as ironic, given the steps lawmakers have taken to insert themselves into another of Obama's key foreign policy issues, a nuclear deal with Iran.
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    "The call from this administration to leaders in Congress to do their jobs has for some reason fallen on deaf ears," Earnest said. "The United States Congress has been essentially AWOL when it comes to that debate."
    The White House convened multiple discussions on the AUMF with lawmakers before presenting the authorization measure two months ago. Since then, the White House has sent top national security officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, to brief members of Congress on the plan.
    But their explanations for the AUMF didn't work to assuage anxious members of Obama's own party, who worry a vote for the war authorization could lead to another American ground war in the Middle East.
    Republicans on Capitol Hill blame Democrats for the standstill. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said on C-SPAN last week, "The president is essentially a war president without a war party."
    Cole, along with a bipartisan group of 30 other lawmakers, addressed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last week insisting he bring the AUMF up for debate.
    But opposition to the plan runs deep in both parties. Republicans say the plan doesn't give the president enough power to go after ISIS terrorists, and they argue for less restrictive language.
    The measure that Obama presented to lawmakers in February would limit his authority to wage a military campaign against ISIS to three years and does not authorize "enduring offensive ground combat operations." But it doesn't include any limitations on where U.S. forces can combat ISIS should the terror group move outside Iraq or Syria.
    The White House points out their document was merely a starting point -- and claim they're open to negotiation. Administration officials say they're committed to the absence of geographic limitations, but are open to altering the time limit and ground troop provision.
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    As Congressional action on the AUMF continues to elude Obama, his military is continuing its air campaign against ISIS. The White House claims it already has the authority to target Islamic State terrorists using the 2001 war powers resolution that was passed after the September 11 attacks.
    But Obama has said a new authorization is necessarily to put forward a united front in the fight against the Islamic State.
    Ultimately, the White House says it's exhausted its options in pushing the measure forward.
    "I think we've done just about everything that is imaginable that an executive branch can do to try to move a law through the Congress," Earnest said. "The president has higher expectations for elected leaders."