The war against ISIS began with airstrikes a year ago this week and lawmakers have spent significant time in the last 12 months debating the strategy and, in many cases, criticizing the way the Obama administration is conducting the fight. But one thing members of Congress have yet to do is have a vote – or even a substantive debate – over authorizing the military campaign.
Instead, President Obama has relied on past authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) against al-Qaeda in 2001 and in Iraq in 2002 as the legal justification for the current campaign against the terrorist organization operating mostly in Iraq and Syria. Despite the White House’s insistence, lawmakers are split on whether they agree. Some believe the president is operating within a legitimate legal framework. Others don’t.
Boehner, who has been a harsh critic of Obama’s strategy in fighting ISIS, was also staunchly against the president’s submission of a force authorization to Congress in February. In May, he called on Obama to “start over” and submit another draft to Congress.
The speaker’s argument is that the February draft is too narrow, restricting the commander-in-chief’s ability to wage the fight. Cory Fritz, a spokesman for Boehner, told RCP, “We have only one commander-in-chief at a time. It is unconscionable that he has offered up a plan that undermines America's ability to win his fight.”
Ultimately, most parties agreed it’s unlikely this issue will be hashed out, either in the near future because of the Iran nuclear debate or into the fall because of continuing divisions and calendar issues. But whether or not progress is made, don’t expect the group of lawmakers pushing for this debate to shy away from it.