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Kaine continues call for congressional consent for war on ISIS

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, recently renewed his call in the halls of Congress for legislative approval of the ongoing U.S. war against the Islamic State.

In doing so, the onetime vice presidential candidate who is a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee mentioned the death on Thanksgiving Day in Syria of Naval Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton, a Virginian.

Dayton, 42, of Woodbridge, was a bomb specialist who died in a improvised explosive device blast, becoming America’s first combat casualty in the fight against ISIS in the Middle Eastern country.

Kaine, the father of a U.S. Marine, noted the local sailor’s 23-year distinguished career in calling, once again, for official authorization from Congress for the continued military action. He said that since the war against ISIS started in 2014 more than 5,000 Americans have served in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria in addition to more than 12,600 American military air strikes.

“Because of the work of American troops we have made major gains against ISIS in Northern Iraq and in Northern Syria,” Kaine said, crediting the bravery of service members like Dayton before adding, “But the threat continues.”

The war has cost $10 billion over 800 days of operations for an average of $12.6 million a day, he said.

“More than 300 Special Forces now in Syria are fighting on a very complex battlefield where Turkish, Syrian, Russian, Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah and Kurdish forces are operating in close proximity,” Kaine said. “I continue to believe that the troops we have deployed overseas deserve to know that Congress is behind this mission.”

The president is relying on the 2001 authorization to go after the perpetrators of 9/11 in conducting the war on ISIS, the senator said. He said when federal legislators assume their congressional seats in January that 80 percent of them will not have been in office when the 2001 authorization was passed.

“So the 80 percent of us who were not here have never had a meaningful debate on this war,” Kaine said, adding that the Constitution obligates Congress to initiate war. “We’ve not had the debate. We’ve not had the vote.”

He said the 2001 authorization has been cited by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama in at least 37 incidences to justify sending U.S. military to 14 nations including Libya, Turkey, Georgia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia.

“It is time for us to recognize that this is a continuing threat that is not going away anytime soon. Of all the powers Congress has, I can’t think of any that are more important than the power to declare war,” Kaine said.  “It should always be a hard vote, but it should be a necessary vote. The unwillingness of Congress to grapple with this sends a message that’s unfortunate: it sends a message of lack of resolve to allies and our adversary.”

The senator ended his remarks by saying he was most concerned about the impact to people like Dayton, and the estimated 2 million American service members fighting the war against ISIS.

“People who are serving in the theater of war,who are risking their lives and giving their lives and doing it without the knowledge that Congress supports the mission that they are on,” said Kaine.