Trump admin willing to work with Congress
on war authorization: lawmakers
Send a link to a friend
[August 03, 2017]
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Officials from
President Donald Trump's administration are willing to work with
Congress as it attempts to pass a new authorization for military
operations against Islamic State, U.S. senators said on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
testified at a classified Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, as
it writes an authorization for the fight against the militant group in
Syria and Iraq.
"They expressed a willingness to work on an authorization and I take
them at their word," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told reporters.
Earlier Wednesday, State said in a letter to the committee's Republican
chairman, Senator Bob Corker, that the administration is not seeking any
additional authorization or any revisions to a 2001 Authorization for
the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
"The United States has sufficient legal authority to prosecute the
campaign against al-Qa'ida and associated forces, including against the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," wrote Charles Faulkner of the
Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs.
The 2001 AUMF, passed days after the Sept. 11 attacks to authorize the
fight against al Qaeda and affiliates, has been used by presidents since
as the legal basis for a wide range of military action.
Some members of Congress argue that it is long past time to repeal the
16-year-old authorization, especially for the campaign against Islamic
State, which did not exist in 2001 and actually fights against al Qaeda
in Syria and elsewhere.
The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the right to approve
such military action. Lawmakers have been struggling with the White
House for a bigger say in foreign policy.
[to top of second column]
Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson arrive to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on
the ongoing fight against the Islamic State on Capitol Hill in
Washington, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Corker said Tillerson and Mattis were open to a new AUMF "written in
the appropriate way." He said, "The administration's not seeking an
AUMF (but) ... I'm confident they'll work with us."
It is not clear that any new AUMF could pass the Senate and House of
Representatives. Attempts in recent years have come to nothing.
There are disagreements even within the committee over how to
Republican Senator Ron Johnson said he believes the 2001
authorization applies to the anti-IS campaign.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, a leading advocate for a new AUMF,
said Mattis and other military leaders agreed congressional action
would send a message of resolve to U.S. adversaries and allies, and
support the troops.
"They think for the mission itself, it would be good to have
Congress engaged," Kaine said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Additional reporting by David
Alexander and Eric Walsh; Editing by James Dalgleish)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.