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Bipartisan Group of 46 Lawmakers Call on Speaker Ryan to Hold Debate on War Authorization for ISIS and Syria

Largest Bipartisan Coalition Yet Calling for Congress to Exercise Its Role in Approving U.S. Military Operations

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Washington, April 28, 2017 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today a bipartisan group of 46 lawmakers – led by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) – called on Speaker Ryan to begin a serious debate on the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and express that President Trump must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Click here to view the letter online.

The largest bipartisan coalition yet calling for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to vote on whether to approve any future U.S. military operations against ISIS and Syria, today’s letter includes 7 bipartisan members of House Armed Services Committee, 9 bipartisan members of House Appropriations Committee, and 4 bipartisan members of House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY).

“Today, we’re sending a strong bipartisan message that it’s long past time for Congress to take responsibility for the war against ISIS by finally holding a debate and vote on whether to authorize any future military action. With his recent military strike against Syria, we are also declaring that President Trump must not undertake any new military operations without the approval of Congress,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said. “Every day our brave men and women in uniform are doing their duty, it’s time for Congress to do its duty. Americans didn’t elect us to give a blank check to the White House when it comes to war. Democrats and Republicans are united in saying the time for action is now.”

“The United States has been combating growing global threats with the same Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) since 2003. With American forces engaged against ISIS in Syria, a debate in Congress about the use of force against that enemy in that theatre is long overdue,” Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) said. “The best way to build support and credibility for necessary military actions is for President Trump to seek for an AUMF from Congress. Congress owes President Trump our counsel and advice as we look to fight our enemies abroad.”

“For years now, Speaker Ryan has blocked Congress from debating and voting on an ISIS-specific AUMF. President Trump’s recent unauthorized and illegal military strike against Syria showed the extent to which Congress is simply missing in action. It is past time we repeal the 2001 AUMF blank check for endless war and for the Speaker to allow Congress to do its job,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “The Constitution is clear: Congress has a responsibility to debate and vote on matters of war and peace. The American people deserve better than a Congress that abdicates this sacred responsibility.”

“One of our most sacred responsibilities in Congress is that of debating war policy and deciding whether or not we send our service members into conflict,” said Congressman Walter Jones (R-OK). “We owe that to the American people, and we owe that to our men and women in uniform.”

In addition to McGovern, Cole, Lee, and Jones, today’s letter was also signed by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Lewis (D-GA), Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M. (R-FL), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Peter Welch (D-VT), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Judy Chu (D-CA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), and Ted Lieu (D-CA).

Click here to view the letter online.


Full Text of Today’s Letter to Speaker Ryan:

April 28, 2017


The Honorable Paul D. Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232 U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We write to you with a sense of urgency and ask that the U.S. House of Representatives immediately begin a serious debate on the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and express that the President must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. As you know, we represent a diverse group of political views, but on this matter we are united. We believe that Congress has an important role to play, and based on current events, such a debate should occur as soon as possible.

For too long, the United States has conducted military operations against the Islamic State under the justification of the outdated 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The U.S. has steadily escalated its role and military presence against the Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq, including additional deployments over the past two months. It is past time for the House to debate and vote on an AUMF that defines the purpose, nature and limits of U.S. military engagement against the Islamic State.

Furthermore, the U.S. has now carried out its first direct military action against the Syrian regime since the country’s civil war began six years ago, again without any authorization by Congress. We believe the President must present a strategy and seek the approval of Congress before any additional military action is taken against the Syrian regime.

We know that you share our respect for the prerogatives, rights and obligations of the Congress as defined under Article I of the Constitution. Congress cannot continue to remain silent and ignore its responsibilities under the Constitution. Engaging in these debates is the minimum we owe the American people and our brave men and women in uniform.

Sincerely, .

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