President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he would begin consulting Congress about a new authorization of military force against the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
During a press conference from the White House on Wednesday, Obama said he would make a new authorization one of his main priorities of the coming lame-duck session of Congress.
Obama said the goal is to “right-size” the new authorization to fit the current scope of the conflict in Iraq and Syria, rather than Iraq or Afghanistan.
“I will begin engaging Congress over a new authorization of military force against ISIL,” Obama told reporters from the East Room of the White House.
Some members of Congress have claimed Obama has stretched legal boundaries to mount his campaign against ISIS, which has been ongoing in Iraq since August and has now expanded into Syria. Upon expanding US airstrikes into Syria, the Obama administration claimed Congress’ 2001 authorization of military force that passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks provided legal basis. The administration has also awkwardly relied on a 2002 authorization for operations in Iraq.
The 2001 authorization provides for the use of force against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated groups. Administration officials said ISIS also falls under the 2001 AUMF due to its previous affiliation with al-Qaeda. The group had a highly public falling out with al-Qaeda earlier this year, but their roots trace back to the group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
“Given the history of this group going back many years, given the fact that we have been in conflict with them for many years and that hasn’t changed, we don’t believe that Congress would have intended to remove the President’s authority to use force against this group simply because the group had a disagreement with al Qaeda leadership,” a senior administration official said Tuesday.
Obama said he would begin discussing a new AUMF with congressional leaders when they come to the White House on Friday. He said he’s confident Congress will approve new authorization but that the debate may continue into the next Congress in January.
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