Flake, Kaine Renew Call For Congress To Weigh In On Ongoing Military Use

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, are co-sponsors of a proposal that would give Congress a chance to vote on the use of the military in the war on terror – something last approved 16 years ago. (Photo by Fraser Allan Best/Cronkite News)

By Fraser Allan Best

WASHINGTON – When Congress first authorized military action against terrorists in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Jeff Flake was a freshman member of the House and Tim Kaine was still mayor of Richmond, Virginia.

Today, both men are U.S. senators and the country is still waging war under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF – a vote they say it’s time to revisit.

“Not one senator on that panel was here in 2001 to vote on that original AUMF, not one,” Flake said Monday outside a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee. “Only 23 members of the Senate, as it currently is, voted on the 2001 AUMF.”

Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, renewed their call Monday for a new AUMF that would allow the military to wage war against “non-state” actors like ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda and their affiliates while giving Congress greater oversight over the process. And, just as importantly to Flake, it would force current members of Congress, many of whom did not vote in 2001, to weigh in on the issue.

Their comments followed a Foreign Relations Committee hearing in which two Trump Cabinet secretaries said a new AUMF is not needed.

While they are willing to negotiate some new provisions, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pushed back against a new AUMF, with Mattis telling the committee the “2001 and 2002 AUMFs should not be repealed.”

“The uncertainty accompanying that situation could only signal to our enemies and our friends that we are backing away from this fight,” Mattis said.

Tillerson said he has concerns about the five-year time limit in the Flake-Kaine measure.

“New authorizations should not be time-constrained,” Tillerson said, adding that it “could unintentionally embolden our enemies with the goal of outlasting us.”

The Flake-Kaine resolution was not the subject of Monday’s hearing, but both senators said it is needed.

The AUMF approved in the wake of the 9/11 attacks gives the president power to pursue terrorists who conspired in the attacks, like al Qaeda and its affiliates, without seeking additional congressional approval.

Both Kaine and Flake said the war against terror must still be waged, and their measure would not reverse that. But Kaine said that since the 2001 authorization was approved, the global context has changed. He said military involvement in the fight against terror can no longer be viewed as a short-term response to 9/11.

“The status quo today is these witnesses believe this war will go on for a very long time,” Kaine said.

-Cronkite News video by Fraser Allan Best

But the Constitution requires that such a long-term conflict needs greater congressional involvement, he said, and less of a blank check for the president.

“The concept of a generations-long war potentially without Congress weighing in is just untenable given the constitutional framework we have,” Kaine said.

The senators’ proposal would allow action against Isis, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other non-state forces that Congress rules to be “associated forces” to terror groups. But it also requires renewal of any such authorization every five years.

In response to Mattis and Tillerson, Kaine said the proposal’s “five-year sunset is not an arbitrary termination of U.S. military action.”

“They testified today that they wouldn’t like operational restrictions, and there are no operational restrictions in our authorization,” he said.

Their measure has yet to get a hearing, but Flake said he remains confident it will move forward, despite pushback from the administration.

“Like I said, an administration will always take whatever authority you give them,” he said. “We’ve got the commitment of the chairmen to move ahead.”


  1. Sen. Jeff Flake, D-Arizona, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia.

    There got the caption under the picture right. Only these two would want to do more crap to make Trump’s policy decisions tougher. Anything to obstruct, etc. etc. etc. etc……. That is all the swamp animals know how to do to protect their asses. Obstruct. Most likely Little Johnnie had to tell little Jeffie about the law. He isn’t smart enough to figure it out himself. What a disgrace to Arizona. McCain is ranked the second most unpopular senator and Flake the third. What great representation that Arizona has in these two POS.

  2. Not surprising that Flake would align himself with Kaine. He would certainly never do anything to align himself with President Trump or anything that would be good for America.

  3. The fact that no current Senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve the 2001 use of force against terrorists who are making war on the U S is irrelevant and Senator Flake knows it, so why is he raising it? Is this just another of his attempts to undermine President Trump because Republican voters rejected Senator Flake and his fellow GOP leaders in favor of President Trump? Does he, perhaps, believe that the terrorists are no longer a threat to the U. S., even after yesterday and even though he voted to allow Iran (the premier state sponsor of terror) to make a nuclear weapon when he voted for Obama`s Iran deal and even though Iran is now developing missiles to reach Europe and the middle east in contravention of that deal? Is he unaware that the Iranian government continues to have a goal of “death to America?” Does Senator Flake also believe that the Iranians really love America, as anyone Iranian is happy to tell you while the Iranian Government is funding anti-American terrorists, and that they chant “death to America” just to make noise at rallies and are not lying when they say they don`t REALLY MEAN IT. The Senator talks about a change in context regarding the AUMF but that is just talk unless he is willing to spell out the relevant changes compared to 2001. As for Congress` authority to act regarding the prosecution of the war on terrorists, if the Constitution requires more Congressional involvement and less of a blank check for the President, why didn`t he make his proposal last year or many years before? In any case, he needs to specify what his actual Constitutional objections to the original authorization for the use of force is, if in fact that is his real objection, and regardless of the 2001 authorization, if the Constitution requires Congressional revisiting the AUMF he should specify exactly why it does if he truly wants Congress to take it up.

  4. Senator you self serving Flake in case you missed what happened in New York yesterday, WE are still at war. Of course you wouldn’t know anything about that growing up in your sheltered community and being a closet democrat.

    Perhaps you should be honest and change your registration and run against the other democrat in a primary.

  5. Jeffey FLAKEY You have showed yourself to be a quitter not a republican now you have teamed up with loser Tim Cain to call for quitting military use. If you and your dem friends get a hold of the military you will want to revert to Obama Doctrine of saying please stop hurting us.

  6. Why dont you eally id flake for the flake he is. DO NOT insult the people that vote R by saying he is a member of the R party. Please identify him as appropriate RINO, as you can see his real loyalty like his brother mclame is with the d’s not the people of the R party or state of AZ.

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