GOP wants to give Obama the power of a military dictator
by Sam Rolley
As Congress continues trying to find a way to beat back the Islamic State terror threat metastasizing throughout the world, there’s growing concern that lawmakers are going to resort to handing unprecedented war powers to the president.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation (S. J. Res. 29) that would grant authorization for use of military force to battle ISIS.
The bill—cosponsored by Sen. Daniel Coats, Sen. Joni Ernst, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen Orrin Hatch— was submitted in response to a request for war power authorization President Barack Obama sent lawmakers last year.
Despite the president’s “intentionally vague” and open-ended proposal leaving the door open for unending war against ISIS , establishment Republicans in Congress have repeatedly said the war authorization must be more extreme.
“If the president decides to put forward a serious plan for defeating ISIL, and seeks an AUMF that doesn’t tie the hands of this or any future commander-in-chief, this is the type of AUMF that would be effective and that the leader would support,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told POLITICO of the GOP’s decision to submit its own war proposal.
In addition to setting no timetable for the fight, the GOP bill also doesn’t limit where the U.S. could fight ISIS or state whether ground troops would be used. It simply authorizes Obama and whoever takes his job after the election to “use all necessary and appropriate force in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, its associated forces, organizations, and persons, and any successor organizations.”
Opponents of the new war authorization attempt say congressional war hawks are keen on removing the legislative branch’s responsibility to decide when war is inevitable and handing it to whomever is in the White House.
According to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the Republican establishment is basically attempting to declare a state of international martial law which will allow Obama and his predecessors to act as worldwide military dictator.
“This resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S. Constitution. It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. ground troops almost anywhere in the world, for almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations,” he warned.
Former Congressman Ron Paul has similarly warned that the Republicans are headed down a slippery slope, declaring that the proposal would make the “Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park.”
“Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the … Constitution will be all but a dead letter,” Paul said.
In response to the pushback, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has gone on the record saying McConnell’s move to bring up the open-ended war bill was mostly done as a favor to Graham and has little likelihood of actually making it to a vote.
Even if that’s the case, Republicans in the Senate are sending a clear message that the president need only return with a proposal that more resembles their open-ended war authorization to assume total military power.