- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2015

Republicans said Thursday that they expect the White House to write a set of rules governing the war on terrorism and share it with Congress in the near future, kicking off a debate about redefining the war to go after the Islamic State.

That would end weeks of haggling between Congress and President Obama, who has said he is eager for more authority but has been reluctant to lay out his exact wishes.

“My hope is, and it may end up being the case, I think they may send us language. Or they may sit down and kind of show us the kind of language they’d like to have, but it really needs to happen that way, and my guess is it may happen that way in the very near future,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, told reporters Thursday.

Mr. Corker said he spoke with administration officials earlier in the week and, although he wouldn’t give a firm timeline, said he expects the White House to develop language before the end of February.

Congress passed a resolution in the fiscal 2015 defense bill to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State on the ground for two years.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have said the broader fight against the Islamic State doesn’t fit into the 2001 and 2002 resolutions that authorized the war against al Qaeda and the invasion to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The White House said those authorizations do cover the war against the Islamic State, though Mr. Obama has called for repeal in favor of a new resolution.

The issue flared up in December as Congress raced to close its session.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, forced a vote in the Foreign Relations Committee saying it was irresponsible for Congress to leave on a holiday vacation without weighing in on the war. The committee passed an authorization written by Democrats, who controlled the chamber at the time, but the full Senate never took up the legislation.

Mr. Paul said the blame falls on the president and on Congress for letting a war go on for months without a formal authorization, though he is not sure whether or when he will reintroduce his own authorization.

“We’re going to do something. I’m waiting to see what the committee is going to do,” he said. “I will continue to be a thorn in the side of the administration because I think they are fighting an unauthorized war.”

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in an appearance last month before the committee, ticked off a number of objections he had with Democrats’ resolution, including a prohibition against American boots on the ground. Democrats pushed forward anyway.

Mr. Corker said he expects the committee will start again under his party’s control, with more hearings, suggesting a drawn-out process.

“We’re also at a place where we’ve got a lot of new members who haven’t been a part of this debate, so I think you’re going to see a really robust hearing process,” he said.

The president has historically sent an authorization to Congress for approval of specific needs to fight a war. Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said he is still waiting for a White House request.

“Well, I have made it pretty clear last fall and again today, the White House typically will ask for the use of military force, and write the resolution, and I would hope that the White House will move quicker,” Mr. Boehner said.

The House time frame is unclear.

Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, directed questions about the war debate to his press secretary, who referred queries back to Republican leaders.


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