Veteran congressman Frank Wolf is the latest politician to demand retaliation against ISIS in the wake of Steven Sotloff’s beheading, announcing legislation authorizing the use of military force against international terrorist groups on Wednesday.
“For far too long the Obama Administration and the Congress have been debating whether or not authority exists for action to address this threat,” he said. “This resolution would provide clear authority for the president and our military, working with coalition partners, to go after these terrorists, whether in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere. We cannot continue operating on outdated authorities passed 13 years ago; it is time for this Congress to vote.”
Wolf’s legislation is brief and, like the 2001 authorization of military force passed after 9/11, very open-ended. He currently plans to introduce it to the House next week. (RELATED: Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Says U.S. Must Arm Kurds After Sotloff Beheading)
It authorizes the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those countries, organizations, or persons associated with or supporting terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and its regional affiliates, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al Shabaab, Boko Haram, and any other emerging regional terrorist groups that share a common violent extremist ideology with such terrorist groups, regional affiliates, or emerging terrorist groups, in order to eliminate all such terrorist groups and prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States or its allies by such terrorist groups, countries, organizations, or persons.”
He also plans to introduce legislation repealing the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which mandates that only Congress can declare war, and requires the president to notify Congress at least 48 hours before committing U.S. forces to military action. Wolf’s bill says that the resolution “has not worked as intended, and has added to the divisiveness and uncertainty that exists regarding the war powers of the President and Congress.”
“It harms the country to have the War Powers Resolution, the centerpiece statute in this vital area of United States law, regularly and openly questioned or ignored,” the bill says. Congress hasn’t declared war since 1941, when it declared war on Japan and Germany after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Senators Tim Kaine and John McCain introduced a similar bill to the Senate in January. “After the September 11th attack, we embarked on an expansive foreign policy,” McCain explained at the time. “Spending on defense and foreign assistance went up, and energy shifted to the executive. Now, things are changing. Americans want to pull back from the world. Our foreign assistance and defense budgets are declining. The desire to curb presidential power across the board is growing. And the political momentum is shifting toward the Congress.”
Senator Kaine, Virginia Democrat and former chair of the Democratic National Committee, also called for military action on Wednesday, saying that the Obama administration “should come to Congress with clear objectives and scope of mission to combat the ISIL threat, and Congress should immediately debate an authorization to use military force.”
Kaine isn’t the only Democrat disappointed in Obama’s inaction. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty,” Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson said Tuesday.
“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president,” said California Democrat and Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, “and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious.”