WASHINGTON ― Hillary Clinton, if elected, plans to push Congress to revise the current Authorization for Use of Military Force to include the war against the Islamic State, according to her running mate.
But if the last two years are any indication, Clinton will have a tough time convincing Congress to weigh in. The U.S. began bombing ISIS over two years ago, but Congress never authorized the war ― though not for President Barack Obama’s lack of trying.
“Hillary has said that that’s something she wants to do very early in her administration,” Kaine told Axelrod on the podcast, which is produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Kaine has said for years that he considers the war “illegal” because Congress never signed off on it. The Constitution states that only Congress has the power to declare war. After lawmakers criticized Obama for saying he didn’t need congressional sign-off because a sweeping 9/11-era AUMF gave him the authority to act unilaterally, Obama sent them a new proposal early last year. It was tailored specifically to the fight against the Islamic State.
Republicans have argued that the war powers proposal Obama sent over was too limited, and they didn’t want the next president to be restricted. But if their nominee doesn’t win, a Clinton presidency may get them moving on an AUMF.
“Hillary believes that this current battle against ISIS ― but against non-state terrorism more generally ― that’s based on a 60-word authorization that was passed on Sept. 14, 2001, when about 70 percent of the current Congress wasn’t there when that vote was cast” is insufficient, Kaine said. “It’s time for Congress to get back in the game and refine and revise that authorization and really look at what it is to be engaged in military action against non-state terrorism groups.”
Kaine added that he thinks some of the holdup by Congress is due to the new threat America is facing.
“The challenge that we’re grappling with now is most of our thoughts and doctrines about war were really developed in the notion of war was state v. state,” he said. “We’re at war now against a non-state actor that doesn’t follow the Geneva Conventions ― that doesn’t follow any of the normal rules.”