With this year’s election now over and lawmakers relieved of the pressure that coincides with daily interaction with constituents, President Obama on Wednesday announced that he would finally ask Congress to give him the approval he needs to continue, and possibly expand, his new multi-front war against the militant group known as ISIS.
Military operations that began over three months ago in Iraq and the expanded to Syria in September have so far been conducted by authorities the Obama administration claims are contained in a pair of congressional military authorizations (AUMFs) signed during the Bush years that followed the attacks of September 11, 2001. Legal experts say those claims are dubious and others have pointed out that because the War Powers Act only allows the president to conduct overseas military operations without Congressional approval for 60 days, Obama is in violation of those restrictions.
“The idea is to right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight rather than previous fights,” the president said Wednesday. “We now have a different type of enemy; the strategy is different.”
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And continued, “It makes sense for us to make sure that the authorization . . . reflects what we perceive to be not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”
On Wednesday, however, in a press conference at the White House following Tuesday’s midterm elections, Obama said he was now prepared to seek the blessing of Congress for ongoing military action in Iraq and Syria, operations he has previously indicated could “long-term”—lasting many months or years into the future.
To Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com, the political timing of the president’s announcement seemed plain enough. He writes:
In his comments on Wednesday, Obama indicated he wants to start the conversation with the current Congress but hinted that an agreement or vote may not happen until 2015, after the new Republican-controlled Congress was sworn in.
“It’ll be a process of listening to members of Congress, as well as us presenting what we think needs to be the set of authorities,” Obama said. “It may just be a process of us getting it started now. It may carry over into the next Congress.”