June 20, 2017

Kaine On Passing New Authorization For Use Of Military Force: 'It's Time To Do It'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine participated in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing reviewing Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), including the one that Kaine introduced with U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) last month against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) began the hearing thanking Kaine and Flake for their “tireless efforts” to present a bipartisan way forward on a new AUMF, which was echoed by members of the Committee on both sides of the aisle. In his remarks, Kaine described how he and Senator Flake drafted their new AUMF based off of some of the lessons learned from the existing AUMFs passed in 2001 and 2002 that have been used to justify military action for the past decade and a half.

“I represent the state that is most-connected to the U.S. military, and I have a child who is a Marine Infantry Officer, so this is an obsession of mine. I think this is really about lessons learned,” Kaine said. “If we can’t learn some things after 16 years of war, shame on us.

Flake and Kaine’s bipartisan AUMF explicitly authorizes military action against the three previously mentioned terrorist groups, gives Congress an oversight role it currently lacks over who can be considered to be “associated” with the terrorist groups and in which countries military action can take place, and provides an expedited process for Congress to re-authorize this AUMF in five years. Lastly, it repeals the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

“It’s time to do this. It’s a new Administration—that’s always a good time to do this—and we have both the Secretary of Defense and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who as recently as 10 days ago, testified before the Armed Services Committee and said we should do this,” Kaine continued. “Our military leadership is telling us we should do this. It is time to do it.”

Kaine asked the witnesses whether it is important that Congress vote on a new AUMF in a bipartisan way. Both witnesses, John B. Bellinger, III, a partner at Arnold & Partner Kaye Scholer LLP, and Kathleen H. Hicks, Ph.D, Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; strongly agreed and stated that they believe, as Kaine does, that a bipartisan consensus does exist on the issue, especially given the alignment of their testimonies and Members’ remarks during the hearing and that now is a critical time for Congress to debate and vote on a new AUMF.

Nearly sixteen years after Congress passed the 2001 AUMF, the U.S. fight against those responsible for the September 11th attacks has been expanded to numerous terrorist organizations that did not exist in 2001, such as ISIS.

Key Components of the bipartisan Flake/Kaine AUMF include:

  • Authorizes the use of military force against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, specifically;
  • Establishes a process for Congressional oversight of what persons or forces can be treated as “associated” with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban;
  • Establishes a process for Congressional oversight of where fighting against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban can occur beyond Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia;
  • Repeals and replaces the 2001 AUMF against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and repeals the 2002 AUMF against Iraq;
  • Provides a five-year sunset on the new AUMF and allows for an expedited process to reauthorize the AUMF prior to its expiration; and
  • Requires the President to report to Congress with a strategy to protect the U.S. from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, and provide subsequent status reports.
  • Flake and Kaine have been longtime leaders in the Senate on this issue. In 2015, they introduced an AUMF to explicitly authorize military force against ISIS.