WASHINGTON, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - Members of Congress should either be brought on board to vote on a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) to combat Islamic State (IS) militants in the Middle East, or the United States should not fight at all, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said Tuesday.
"I think it's absolutely critical that Congress complete the authorization it began last week when it voted on the arming of moderate elements in Syria," Kaine said during a speech to the Center for American Progress. "If we're going to engage this mission, we've got to do it right or not do it… And if Congress won't get on board, then - much as I might regret it - we should stop doing it."
Senator Kaine sponsored one of three bills currently in the Senate to authorize military action against the IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). President Obama and members of his administration have argued that the 2001 AUMF issued to combat those responsible with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, gives the President statutory authority to commit American military resources against IS thirteen years later. The efforts escalated on Tuesday when the US began airstrikes inside Syria.
Kaine, a Democrat, called the argument by the Obama administration "an extremely creative stretch by extremely creative lawyers," which he does not believe is justified. He continued that the broadening of the powers of the executive to wage war by that authorization was broadened to the point of "essentially falling back into the preemptive war doctrine that Congress rejected."
Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Congress voted against an early iteration of the AUMF which gave no temporal or geographic limits to the president's ability to wage the war on terrorism.
In a brief interview with RIA Novosti, former Texas Congressman, Ted Strickland said voting against the unlimited AUMF in 2001 "was the best vote I made," but regretted that the AUMF that did pass Congress had been broadened to become "unlimited."
Members of both houses of Congress are on recess and will reconvene in a lame duck session after the November elections. Kaine said that while he would have preferred an authorization to be passed before the recess, he is hopeful one might pass with bipartisan support even in the lame duck session.