Congress Is About to Decide Whether to Give Trump More or Less Power to Expand Wars

Will Congress choose to formally sign over its war-making powers to the president, or will it reassert them?

June 4, 2018

Cross-posted from Fortune

America has a war problem. Government officials assure us we’ve brought Al Qaeda to its knees and prevented ISIS from establishing a caliphate. Yet with every passing year since 9/11, we’re at war with more groups, and in more countries, than before. And there’s no end in sight.

No one seriously thinks Congress had this in mind back in 2001, when it authorized the use of military force against those who planned, aided, and executed the 9/11 attacks. But after allowing three successive presidents to stretch this authorization beyond recognition — pressing it into service around the world against multiple groups supposedly “associated” with Al Qaeda and the Taliban — Congress seems ready to declare its own wishes. The question is: Will Congress choose to formally sign over its war-making powers to the president, or will it reassert them?

Two current proposals — one offered by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the other by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) — embody these dueling approaches. Both bills would repeal and replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the 2002 AUMF authorizing the Iraq War. But the similarity ends there.

The Corker-Kaine bill would let the president choose which groups to fight, where to fight them, and what to tell the American people. It would authorize military action against Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and “associated forces.” It identifies five such forces, but would permit the president to select others. It also would allow the president to expand the war beyond the six countries specified in the bill. The president need only notify Congress — but not obtain its approval — within 48 hours of designating a new group or a new country. And he could keep the expansion secret from the public.

Read the full article on Fortune

(Photo: Gerd Altman)