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Kaine Introduces Two Authorization For Use Of Military Force-Focused Amendments To Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, introduced two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) focused on the war against ISIL. The first measure, encourages a revision of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in the wake of September 11, 2001 by sunsetting the 2001 AUMF two years after the new Administration takes office, and requiring the new Administration to propose legislation to modify or repeal it.  The second is a reintroduction of the bipartisan, ISIL-specific authorization Kaine introduced with U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) last year. A companion version of the Kaine-Flake AUMF was also introduced in the House of Representatives last December.

“Nearly two years into an executive war against ISIL, the unwillingness of this Congress to authorize the war not only shows a lack of resolve, it sets a dangerous precedent,” said Kaine. “It’s not hard to imagine a future president using this inaction to justify the hasty and unpredictable initiation of military action against new enemies on new fronts without the permission of Congress. Short of passing an ISIL-specific authorization this year, it’s my hope that we can revise the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force – a broad, open-ended measure passed just days after September 11, 2001 – to better tailor the U.S. fight against terrorism and non-state actors globally, as well as clarify our mission for the American people and those servicemembers we are asking to risk their lives.”

Key provisions of the Kaine amendment to revise the 2001 AUMF:

  1. Requires the President to submit to Congress proposed legislation that refines, modifies, or repeals the 2001 AUMF by September 20, 2017;
  2. Provides for certain expedited Congressional procedures to quickly begin debate on such legislation;
  3. Necessitates that a new Administration detail to Congress its comprehensive strategy to protect Americans from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIL, and other transnational terrorist organizations that threaten the U.S. national security and specify the military actions that are being taken to address this threat including the specific entities and geographic location of operations;
  4. Requires greater transparency of the military actions the U.S. is currently conducting in foreign countries, including the list of organizations, persons, or forces being targeted and the legal justification being relied upon for such action;
  5. Repeals the 2001 AUMF on January 1, 2019. 

The Kaine-Flake amendment would authorize the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against ISIL based on the following key provisions:

  1. A narrow purpose to protect the lives of U.S. citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL.  The amendment also specifies that the use of significant U.S. ground troops in combat against ISIL, except to protect lives of U.S. citizens from imminent threat, is not consistent with such purpose;
  2. A sunset after three years unless reauthorized;
  3. A repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force;
  4. A clause to make this authorization the sole statutory authority for U.S. military action against ISIL (rather than the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force).