WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have filed legislation to give the president clear authority to use military force against al-Qaida, the Taliban and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The measure would replace similar legislation Congress approved in 2001 and 2002 that gives the president clear authority to use military force against al Qaeda and Iraq, and would put to rest any questions as to whether the administration has the authority to target terrorists wherever they are today.
“Terrorists groups such as ISIS pose a serious threat to our national security,” Nelson said. “This bill will give the president the clear legal authority he needs to target these groups in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else they may be hiding.”
Debate over the president’s authority to use military force in a foreign country without first going to Congress resurfaced this week after President Trump launched a barrage of missiles against several chemical weapons facilities in Syria. While Nelson has said publicly that he supported the president’s decision to strike the facilities in Syria, he also said that the president should have sought Congressional approval before launching the strike.
The legislation, which Nelson and others filed late Monday, would end debate over the president’s authority to launch strikes against al-Qaida, the Taliban and ISIS anywhere in the world without Congressional approval. It would not, however, provide the president with the same blanket authority to conduct strikes against non-terrorists targets, such as the strikes this past weekend in Syria.
Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, filed similar legislation in 2014 after ISIS beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
A copy of the legislation is available here.