As Mission Creeps in Iraq and Syria, Lawmakers Ask: Will We Ever Vote on War?
Amid intensifying U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria, a group of 35 bipartisan House lawmakers issued an open letter on Friday calling for Congress to fulfill its responsibility by voting “as quickly as possible” on whether to authorize a war that is well over a year old.
The missive calls for new Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to immediately force a vote on Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) “that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on U.S. military engagement in Iraq, Syria, and the surrounding region.”
The letter is signed by stalwart war critics, such as Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), as well as members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, in what one reporter called an “unusual coalition.” Reps. Lee, Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and John Lewis (D-Ga.) are leading the charge.
The initiative comes amid ongoing U.S. military escalation. In late October, President Barack Obama ordered 50 Special Operations soldiers to be deployed to Syria and also announced expanded ground operations in Iraq—where U.S. troops will embed with Iraqi and Kurdish forces and engage in combat.
Also late last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the U.S. is planning to escalate its attacks in Iraq and Syria. “We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL or conducting such missions directly,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.”
“We do not share the same policy prescriptions for U.S. military engagement in the region,” Friday’s letter states. “Taken all together, these represent a significant escalation in U.S. military operations in the region and place U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.
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