“We’ve given the executive a blank check on where, when and who, and this imposes significant limitations on the where, when and who but tries to do it in a way that can get bipartisan support,” Sen. Kaine told reporters.
Some members of Congress have called on Trump to seek congressional approval for further military action in Syria, but this authorization would not address that conflict or others that fall outside of expressly fighting terrorist organizations.
Unlike the current war authorization, a congressional review is built in every four years at which point Congress could amend, expand or repeal the president’s authority. If Congress doesn’t act, the president’s authority continues unabated. While some wanted an expiration, negotiators settled on the review to ensure Congress has some oversight while trying to appease those reluctant to challenge the president’s authority.
Also in the measure: It specifically names terror groups the United States can engage, and it allows for the U.S. to fight the main terrorism splinter groups, known as “associated forces.” If the president wants to add a new associated group, it must immediately be reported to Congress, which can disapprove.
The groups identified in the legislation are ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. How to define “associated forces” was the final sticking point before a final deal was reached, two sources and one senator told NBC News. Negotiators settled on a definition as non-state actors who have engaged U.S. forces first.
By not outlining regions where sustained combat fighting is allowed, the measure enables the administration to wage war against non-state actors anywhere in the world. But the president would be required to submit a report to Congress within 48 hours when he or she launches a new offensive. Congress can then disapprove, sources said.
“I think it strikes a pretty clear balance. I would have liked a sunset but this still gives us an opportunity to weigh in,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has worked on this measure and previous versions with Sen. Kaine, said. “So I think it strikes the best template that we could come up with.”
Critics say that while the current AUMF has been abused and must be updated, they worry this version still provides too much power to the executive branch.
“I worry about an AUMF that is more permissive than what the president currently interprets his authority to be,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said. “It’s gonna be hard for me to support something that has no sunset and no geographic limitation.”
Matthew Waxman, professor at Columbia Law School and former national security official in the George W. Bush administration said the lack of an expiration date will be disappointing to those who worry that this “entrenches an indefinite war.”
“The political reality, though, is that a much more restrictive AUMF won’t be possible anytime soon, and we’ll be engaged in an indefinite war either way,” Waxman said. “A new AUMF that includes strict congressional reporting and requires more frequent congressional reconsideration at least improves transparency and oversight.”
Article Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/congress-wrestles-new-war-terror-authorization-n865656?cid=public-rss_20180417