WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of veterans on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee unveiled a new war authorization Thursday to replace the two currently serving as the legal underpinnings of the fight against ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and forces associated with it.
The legislation would allow the use force against members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS. It would also authorize the use for force against “any person, other than a sovereign nation, that is a part of, or substantially supports” one of these groups and has engaged in hostilities against the U.S.
It requires the White House to report to Congress within 60 days of its enactment and every 90 days thereafter any actions taken under the authority provided by the authorization, known as an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Under the proposal, the new AUMF would expire after five years, meaning Congress would have to pass a new one in order to continue conflict against these groups within the law.
The proposal does not set geographic limits to the conflict.
“For too long, Congress has allowed our armed forces to be used with ever more tenuous links to a vague and obsolete Authorization of Military Force. This bill would refocus our efforts against terrorism and prevent the unauthorized use of our military against other countries or people,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.
Gallego introduced the AUMF with Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.). All of the men served in the armed forces, and sit on the House Armed Services Committee.
The Trump administration has said that 2001 AUMF, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and 2002 AUMF, which preempted the invasion of Iraq, provide all the legal authority needed to fight the conflicts the U.S. is currently engaged in. Officials have also said that a new war authorization would signal a renewed commitment to the fight.
“We need the unity of the American government and with the Congress involved that brings the unity of the American people to this fight,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said before the House Armed Services Committee last week. “… The U.S. Congress has got to embrace this as our fight.”
Mattis has said he does not support time or geographic limits on any war authorization.
A growing chorus of lawmakers have pressed for a new AUMF, arguing that Congress must reclaim its constitutional war powers and that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have been employed far beyond their original intent.