April 16, 2018 / 10:32 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. senators offer legislation covering military action against militants

WASHINGTON, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. senators announced long-awaited legislation on Monday to provide congressional authorization for U.S. campaigns against militant groups in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, part of a push to take back authority over the military from the White House.

A group of senators led by U.S. Senators Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Tim Kaine, a committee Democrat, proposed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that would authorize “all necessary and appropriate force” against al Qaeda, the Taliban, Islamic State and associated forces.

It does not authorize military action against any nation state, including Syria.

The new AUMF also does not set an end date for any military action, although it would establish a process for Congress to review the new AUMF every four years, without risking a lapse in the authorization.

Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress have long argued that they ceded too much authority over the military to both Republican and Democrat presidents after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

They now are trying to rein in some of that power by approving a new AUMF.

Under the constitution, only Congress, not the president, has the right to authorize war. But presidents have used AUMFs passed in 2001 for the fight against al Qaeda and affiliates, and one passed in 2002 for the war in Iraq, to justify a wide range of conflicts since, prompting many lawmakers to say a new AUMF is long overdue.

Corker said he expected the foreign relations committee to debate and possibly vote on the new AUMF as soon as next week.

It was not immediately clear when the measure would be taken up in the House of Representatives. To become law, it would have to pass the Senate and House and be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Trump’s top national security aides pushed back against congressional calls for a new AUMF last year, saying it would be a mistake to impose geographic or time limits on the campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Amanda Becker Editing by James Dalgleish)

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