Earlier today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a new proposal for a limited authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State.
Though largely similar to the AUMF he introduced last September (which we covered at the time), today’s proposal is updated and has several important modifications, including a significantly longer sunset provision.
Changes to the proposed language include:
- A clear statement that the geographic limitations (i.e., that the AUMF extends only to Iraq and Syria) does not include any the training of “indigenous Syrian or regional military forces;”
- A longer sunset provision, allowing the AUMF to stay in force for three years (rather than 18 months); and
- Added language relating to the recent executions of hostages from the U.S., the U.K., and Japan, and updates that acknowledge the redeployment of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
The new draft also retains the immediate repeal of the 2002 AUMF, but extends the sunset period for the 2001 AUMF to three years (up from 18 months). This means that if Schiff’s latest AUMF proposal is passed soon, any debate over whether to reauthorize the mission in Iraq and Syria would happen in early 2018, the same year as the next Congressional midterm election cycle.
The looser geographic restrictions and extension of the sunset provision provide more discretion to the Executive Branch in carrying out combat operations against the Islamic State than Schiff’s earlier proposal.
It is also worth noting that Schiff’s proposal does not precisely define the scope of the mission. Is the purpose of the AUMF to limit the use of force to containing the Islamic State within its current territory or within Syria? Or does it contemplate the complete destruction of the group?
Also absent from both the prior and new AUMF proposals by Rep. Schiff are robust or specific reporting requirements (compare section 6 of the “Principles to Guide Congressional Authorization of the Continued Use of Force Against ISIL” published at Just Security)—this is especially conspicuous since Rep. Schiff has been a leader on the Hill in pressing for congressional oversight of US military operations in the conflict with al Qaeda.
The full proposed text of the joint resolution, “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL Resolution,” is available below.
To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”).
Whereas for months Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”) has been engaged in a campaign of murder and mayhem across a broad swath of Iraq and Syria that has killed thousands of innocent people and terrorized millions;
Whereas ISIL has brought under its control large areas of Iraq and Syria and announced on June 29, 2014, the establishment of a new caliphate;
Whereas in its conduct of military operations, its treatment of personnel captured on the battlefield, and its behavior towards civilians in areas under its control, ISIL has shown a level of brutality and depravity that shocks the conscience;
Whereas ISIL has brutally murdered American, British, and Japanese hostages and continues to hold and threated [sic.] the lives of other western hostages;
Whereas the threat posed by the recruitment of ISIL fighters in the United States and Europe and the prospect of these fighters returning to the United States or allied countries jeopardizes the security of the United States and its allies;
Whereas ISIL poses an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and if left unchecked will be the locus of plots to attack our homeland;
Whereas the rise of ISIL, the continuing threat posed by al Qaeda, and the redeployment of United States combat troops from Afghanistan highlight the need to re-examine and harmonize the legal authorities under which the President is authorized to take offensive military action; and
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to protect the United States and its citizens from imminent threat or attack but Congress alone holds the power to declare war: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL Resolution”.
SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) In General.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”).
(b) Geographical Limitation.—The authority granted in subsection (a) shall be confined to the territory of the Republic of Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic. The limitation of this subsection shall not apply to the Armed Forces of the United States engaged in training of indigenous Syrian or regional military forces for the purpose of combating ISIL
(c) No Authorization For Use Of Ground Forces In Combat.—The authority granted in subsection (a) does not include the authority for the deployment of ground forces in a combat role. For purposes of this subsection, “ground forces in a combat role” does not include special operations forces or other forces that may be deployed in a training, advisory, or intelligence capacity.
(d) Termination.—The authority granted in subsection (a) shall terminate on the date that is three years after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution.
(e) War Powers Resolution Requirements.—
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS.—Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PRIOR AUTHORIZATIONS FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) Repeal.—The following provisions of law are hereby repealed:
(1) The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note).
(2) The Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note).
(b) Effective Date.—The repeal made by subsection (a)(2) shall be effective as of the date that is three years after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution.
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
(a) In General.—The President shall, at least once every 60 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution, submit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required over the next 60 days.
(b) Consolidation.—To the extent that the submission of any report required in subsection (a) coincides with the submissions of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of the War Powers Resolution, all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate.