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Syria Strikes & War Authorization

by Countable | Updated on 4.11.18

What’s the story?

Early on Wednesday morning President Trump tweeted out a threat to strike at Russian troops in Syria. The statement comes on the eve of the release of the first new war authorization from Congress since 2002. If passed, the new authorization wouldn’t address strikes to Syria, but it would force Congress into what many say is a long overdue vote on the president’s war powers.

  • What is war authorization, anyway? Technically called an AUMF (Authorization For Use Of Military Force), the decision permits the legislative and executive branches to agree on limited war aims. An authorization can lapse without a formal surrender and can permit military action short of total war. Under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war.

  • There was debate in April 2017 when President Trump last launched strategic strikes against Syria whether or not a new AUMF was necessary before any further military action was taken.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that lawmakers in both parties now seem to be supporting the president’s authority to authorize limited, tactical strikes, so the new AUMF would not specifically address the Syrian strikes.

  • What it would do is update the last AUMF, first approved in 2001 after 9/11 and then again in 2002. Many lawmakers have argued that AUMF is overly broad, and has no discernable end. Most lawmakers currently in Congress were not in office when it was approved, and many soldiers currently fighting under its authority were just born.

  • This newest AUMF, headed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, represents a long sought, bipartisan compromise. The Washington Post reports "[t]he tentative plan is to unveil the legislation Thursday and then hold a formal committee markup — debate, amendments and possibly approval — on April 19."

  • At that point it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to decide if it will come to the floor for a vote.

What do you think?

Should Congress have to vote on a new war authorization? What should that authorization cover in terms of geography, tactics, and objective? Should it include a sunset, or some sort of time limit? If so, what kind of time frame should it involve?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)


Written by Countable

Leave a comment
  • Terry

    Too many chiefs not enough Indians. Letting 535 people in a public forum decide a if and when to attack is $%~!^

  • Luke

    Can’t say I support anything related to war or strikes in Syria and I don’t see how any Trump supporters would either. Trump made a lot of campaign promises about being less involved in international affairs and he has done almost the exact opposite and really damaged America’s standing in the international community as a result of his brash actions and poor use of words. Also, someone please get his ass off of Twitter.