After Election, President Will Seek Congressional Authorization for War Against ISIS

November 6th, 2014

The New York Times reports that now that the election is over, the President will go to Congress for a debate over authorization for force against ISIS.

WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Wednesday that he would seek specific authorization from Congress for the military campaign against the Islamic State, opening the door to a lengthy, potentially contentious debate over the nature and extent of American engagement in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Obama’s announcement, at his post-election news conference, was not wholly unexpected. But it represented a significant shift from his earlier position that while he would welcome congressional backing, he had legal authority to take military action under existing statutes.

Administration officials said Mr. Obama still believed he had that authority, but with the elections over, he concluded that the time was right to petition Congress for more explicit authority.

So I suppose the President can now go back to arguing the 2001 AUMF should be repealed and the 2002 AUMF is no longer applicable.

Until now, the White House had justified its airstrikes in Iraq and Syria under two existing laws: a 2001 authorization passed after the 9/11 attacks, which Mr. Obama has invoked to carry out drone and missile strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, and a 2002 authorization sought by President George W. Bush for the Iraq war.

“The idea is to right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight rather than previous fights,” Mr. Obama said. “We now have a different type of enemy.”

Right-Size! Update! Does he really think he needs this authority, or is he aiming to bind whoever comes after him?

In part because the battle with the Islamic State is likely to last beyond Mr. Obama’s presidency — and soak up resources he wanted to commit elsewhere — there is an increasing sense that the White House is more eager than ever to strike even an agreement in principle with Iran by the Nov. 24 deadline for the end of negotiations.

Now what happens if Congress doesn’t give the President the authorization he wants? Does he go back to the AUMFs?