Flake, Kaine Urge Congress To Reclaim Power To OK Military Action

By J.T. Lain

WASHINGTON – Congress has been too willing to cede its constitutional authority to approve the use of military forces and it’s time to take that responsibility back, Sens. Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine said Wednesday.

Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said bills from 2001 and 2002 that authorized the use of military force have become “zombie” authorizations, repeatedly used by presidents in situations the original measures did not envision.

The two are again sponsoring a bill that, while it would not halt any current military action, would make clear that future authorizations are not open-ended and would expand the law to let Congress approve strikes against “non-state actors” like ISIS.

Presidents, Democrat or Republican, will “take any power you can give them,” said Flake. Despite the continuance of “war activities” under the previous authorizations for use of military force – or AUMFs – Flake said 70 percent of Congress was not in office when they were approved and has not had a chance to vote on the authorization of war powers.

“That’s simply not right,” he said.

Kaine said President Donald Trump did not inform members of Congress before launching missile strikes against Syria in April, and that a request for permission and legal justification are yet to come.

Article 1 of the Constitution outlines congressional powers including the ability to declare war. Kaine said the bill he and Flake have proposed would not overwrite this power, but simply remind both branches of government the separation of power.

The senators said they are not out to strip the president of any powers, merely to rein powers that successive administrations have overused.

Flake said “the onus is on the president” to come to Congress with a plan, as much as it is on lawmakers to act.


-Cronkite News video by Alex Valdez

“It would be ideal for the administration to offer language up and for us to massage it,” he said.

But Flake did not let Congress off the hook, either, noting that lawmakers have been too quick to blame the president for his military actions when they have always had the power to take it away – and haven’t.

Flake and Kaine worry that the changing nature of adversaries in modern warfare leaves the U.S. without legal justification to attack non-state entities that target it, such as terror groups. Those include the Islamic State, al Qaeda and Boko Haram, among others.

Kaine said military leaders predict the U.S. will mostly engage non-state actors instead of sovereign nations in future conflicts. While the 2001 AUMF allows action against anyone responsible for the 9/11 attacks, it would not cover the Islamic State, which was formed in 2003.

Kaine proposed three requirements should be met before the U.S. takes action against a non-state actor: The group is affiliated or pledges allegiance to a recognized terror organization; it plans to or has attacked the U.S.; the president lists it as a threat, and that listing is not rejected by Congress.

A White House spokesperson said Wednesday that the administration does not comment on pending legislation.

But Defense Secretary James Mattis, in testimony to a Senate committee in March, asked Congress to approve a new authorization as a “statement of the American people’s resolve.” He told the Senate Appropriations Committee that he has been wondering why Congress has not put forth a new AUMF, or at least debated the issue.

This is not the first attempt by Flake and Kaine, who introduced a similar bill in 2015 that never got out of committee.

Kaine said they are open to amendments from other lawmakers on this bill, and Flake said bipartisanship is the best way forward. Flake, noting that he and Kaine both have immediate family in the military, said a partisan final product would be “devastating” to the ability to send a message of solidarity to Americans.

“They need to know we speak with one voice,” he said.

9 Comments on "Flake, Kaine Urge Congress To Reclaim Power To OK Military Action"

  1. Where were their balls when Obama was abusing executive power, did they all of of sudden drop during President Trumps term?

  2. congress is showing it is already it’s own worst enemy, blocked from doing much of anything – they can’t seem to find the toilet paper roll for their own use – that the president launches attacks and mini wars, holds powers like civil actions against our own nation, as the marshal law rules under Obama were changed dangerous indeed, but congress itself has become a non-state power of it’s own with its use of obfuscation as a weapon of agenda policy – which ant hill would you like to sit on the red, or the black one. Much of Congress would have us removing the current president because they didn’t like the outcome of the election… rules are rules – the United States – was the United States.. now it’s just a matter of time till someone says Marshall Law and it’s a nation where the fence holds us in not them out. Put some new laws of congress needing to ‘agree on something’ to have the real threat of military action on the table right now, with Korea etc. No Thanks. Seems the fiber of the nation.. is lost – In God We Trust ? Better be because our leaderships efforts, either side – don’t seem to be cutting the requirements very well do they.

  3. “Flake, an Arizona Republican…”

    He’s a big government liberal just like McCain. There is no problem the federal government can’t waste your tax dollars on and tell you how to live.

  4. Flake is so Wussy and it is certaily no surprise that he buddies up with Timmy Kaine.

    Arizona needs to step up and let mr Flake spend some time earning a living as opposed off of the publeic. Perhaps he could help his son watch over dogs in Mesa.

  5. Why am I not surprised that Flake (how apropos) and Tim ‘insane’ Kaine would be on the same team?

    Calling Flake a Republican is like calling ‘Morning-Joe’ Scarborough a Republican.

  6. Flake is a closet democrap and supporter of obamanation/killary.

  7. I read where POTUS is considering giving Kelli Ward $10 Million to run against the Flake in the primary. Get out there folks and make some noise for Kelli.

  8. Of course Flake (AKA, Little Me, John McCain) would never say anything like this if Obama was back in office.

    Just another worthless press release from a diehard liberal.

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