A group of 35 US House of Representatives members, led by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Lewis (D-GA), sent a letter on Friday to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) expressing that it “is critical that the House schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible” in regard to US government actions in and around Iraq and Syria.
Going to the heart of the matter, the letter states:
We do not share the same policy prescriptions for US military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on US military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region.The letter further notes the US government’s recently announced escalation of military air and ground operations in both Iraq and Syria.
Time will tell if Ryan schedules a debate and vote or chooses to duck responsibility as did his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Also signing the letter, as detailed on McGovern’s House website, are Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), John Abney Culberson (R-TX), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Richard L. Hanna (R-NY), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Bill Posey (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), and Ryan K. Zinke (R-MT).
The body of the letter follows:
Among the issues that require urgent attention by the US House of Representatives is the question of the extent of involvement by the US military in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Given the recent announcement by President Obama of a deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq, it is critical that the House schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible.Duncan and Jones are members of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Advisory Board.
Last week, the president announced initiatives that escalate US engagement in combat operations in Syria and Iraq. Specifically, the US will deploy a US Special Operations contingent into northern Syria to be embedded with and to advise opposition militant forces in that region; and US military advisors and special operations forces already in Iraq will be embedded with Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the front lines of combat. Secretary of Defense Carter also stated that US air operations in both Syria and Iraq will increase their bombing campaigns. Taken all together, these represent a significant escalation in US military operations in the region and place U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.
We do not share the same policy prescriptions for US military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on US military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region. US bombing campaigns have been going on for more than a year, and US troops on the ground have been increasingly close to or drawn into combat operations, including the recent death in combat of a special operations soldier in Iraq.
Consistent with your pledge to return to regular order, we urge you to direct the committees of jurisdiction to draft and report out an AUMF as soon as possible. We do not believe in the illusion of a consensus authorization, something that only happens rarely. We do believe the Congress can no longer ask our brave service men and women to continue to serve in harm’s way while we fail in carrying out our constitutional responsibility in the area of war and peace.
As long as the House fails to assert its constitutional prerogatives and authority, the Administration may continue to expand the mission and level of engagement of US Armed Forces throughout the region. We strongly urge you, Mr. Speaker, to bring an AUMF to the floor of the House as quickly as possible.
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