- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee introduced a new bill Thursday to revoke the broad war-making powers granted to the president in 2001 and 2002 and to replace them with a much slimmer authorization targeting the Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Rep. Adam Schiff’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force would give the president the power to commit ground troops to the fight, but puts a three-year limit on the authorization.

“For far too long, Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to authorize military action abroad, effectively ceding the war-making power to the executive branch,” said Mr. Schiff in a statement announcing the resolution, which he sponsored along with nine fellow Democrats.

President George W. Bush won an AUMF to attack al Qaeda and the Taliban in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, then a year later won authority to oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq.

But as the war on terror has expanded to include Libya, Syria, Yemen and other countries, and the focus has shifted from al Qaeda to the Islamic State, legal scholars and a growing number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the two original authorizations have been stretched beyond the breaking point.

“As deployments to Iraq and Syria increase, and with complicating factors like the recent cruise missile strike against the Assad regime in response to the use of chemical weapons, Congress cannot stand on the sidelines any longer and must debate and vote on any new war,” said Mr. Schiff. “Congress must demand of this Administration and future Administrations the legal justifications for any military action, and hold them accountable for those actions.”

For years, Republicans pestered Mr. Obama to revoke the previous AUMFs and come up with a new one. Mr. Obama finally complied in 2015, delivering a severely limited proposal to Capitol Hill — where both Democrats and Republicans quickly shelved it, saying they couldn’t come to a conclusion on how to proceed.

Some hawks wanted broader powers to commit troops, while other lawmakers said even Mr. Obama’s limited proposal went too far.

It’s not clear that logjam has cleared under President Trump.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, joined Mr. Schiff earlier this week in sending President Trump a letter requesting the basis of his legal authority for the airstrike earlier this month in Syria on the Sharat airbase.

“It has now been over two weeks since you ordered the strike on the airfield, and your Administration has yet to put forward any detailed legal analyst or justification for that action under domestic and international law,” the letter read.

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