WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) and CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement today in response to President Obama’s proposal for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL. 

“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check. Prolonged military action requires robust debate and authorization from Congress, so we are glad that President Obama has presented a proposal. One of Congress’s most important roles is to declare war, and an AUMF is a declaration of war.

“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF.

“The Administration has argued that the 2001 AUMF, which was designed to declare war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban shortly after the attacks of 9/11 but has since been broadly applied more than 30 times, provides the legal authority for any existing and future operations against ISIL. Until Congress declares that the 2001 AUMF does not apply to ISIL, any limitations or restrictions in the AUMF proposed by the president are irrelevant.

“An AUMF debated by Congress should also be comprehensive, and include the political, economic, and diplomatic solutions that will ultimately degrade and dismantle ISIL. We should work to cut the flow of money, weapons, and fighters to ISIL. We should push the United Nations to start negotiations to end the Syrian civil war. Most importantly, we should ensure that our humanitarian aid is not eclipsed by our military efforts.  

“In the coming weeks, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will be holding hearings and meetings on the AUMF. One thing is clear now: the conflict in Syria and Iraq requires a comprehensive solution. ISIL’s barbaric tactics are designed to pull the United States into another endless conflict. We must provide careful consideration to an AUMF, but lasting peace and stability will only come with a regional political solution.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus led the fight for calling for Congressional debate on the use of force against ISIL. In the 113th Congress, the CPC introduced H. Con. Res. 114, which called for debate and a vote on any US sustained combat role against ISIL, supported a ban on the deployment of combat ground troops, and argued that any AUMF must be narrowly tailored and include robust reporting requirements.  CPC Peace and Security Taskforce Chair Barbara Lee recently introduced the Comprehensive Solutions to ISIL Act, which would ensure that the Administration pursues a comprehensive strategy to degrade and dismantle ISIL, repeals the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, bars the deployment of combat ground troops, and requires the Administration to submit to Congress a “comprehensive diplomatic, political, economic and regionally-led strategy.”

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