The PJ Tatler

Florida Dem to Boehner, Obama: Congress Needs to Return to Weigh Authorization of Force

The round of airstrikes in Syria in the early morning hours prompted one Democrat to ask House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to call Congress back to address a proper authorization of military force (AUMF).

And Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) also let President Obama know that lawmakers in his own party are questioning the administration’s determination that they can act against ISIS via 2001 and 2003 AUMFs.

Hastings previously asked Boehner to call Congress back during the five-week summer recess to address the same concern. Congress remained in town for only two weeks before leaving for the pre-midterm district campaigning period.

“The situation in both Iraq and Syria on a political, humanitarian and military level grow increasingly dire, and we may very well have a duty to meet these difficulties with force along with any number of other strategic responses,” Hastings wrote Obama today. “However, Congress has a duty to discuss these issues and act accordingly under the United States Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. We must also reexamine the relevancy of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) with regard to the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and future military operations to address ISIL.”

“The AUMF was born from the need to take immediate and bold action to respond to the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The time has come, however, for Congress to fulfill its constitutional role in committing our military resources to global conflicts, and specifically examine whether the required strategy in Iraq and Syria necessitates additional Congressional authorization.”

Hastings’ concern has been echoed by other lawmakers, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who last week told Secretary of State John Kerry, “You’re going to need a new AUMF.”

“I certainly appreciate your timely attention to the complex and difficult situation unfolding in Iraq and Syria, and want you to know that I am eager to facilitate a resolution to the current crisis by making sure that the United States exercises the full might of its democracy to achieve the best outcome for the American people and all those threatened by ISIL,” Hastings added in the Obama letter.

To Boehner, Hastings stressed that “the Administration’s reliance on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) for our country’s ongoing military operations within Syria raises many questions.”

“I must once again respectfully call upon you to bring the U.S. House of Representatives back into session so that we may meet our constitutional responsibility under Article I to address the nature, duration, and scope of these and future activities,” the Florida Dem wrote. “As Members of Congress, we have a duty to ensure that the United States does not enter a conflict without appropriate deliberation or debate. We abdicate this responsibility when we do not exercise full oversight of our military commitment.”

Hastings declared the “time has come for Congress to reassert its constitutional role in committing our military resources to global conflicts, and specifically examine whether the President’s strategy in Iraq and Syria necessitate additional Congressional authorization.”

“Reasonable minds will disagree as to what the fate of the 2001 AUMF ought to be, and reasonable minds may very well disagree as to what military operations, if any, we ought to take to address the ongoing threat posed by ISIL, but in order for such disagreements to occur we must first provide the forum for such discussions. As demonstrated by Article I Section 8, the appropriate forum is Congress,” he said. “The appropriate time is now.”