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Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Declaration Of War Against ISIS

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul speaks to the Chase Federalist Society at Northern Kentucky University last month in Highland Heights, Ky.
Timothy D. Easley
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul speaks to the Chase Federalist Society at Northern Kentucky University last month in Highland Heights, Ky.

Saying President Obama does not have the authority to wage a war against the so-called Islamic State, Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced a measure declaring war against the Sunni militant group.

Obama declared a war against the group back in September. Administration officials have said that they believe Obama could order military action against the group, relying on the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001.

As we've reported, the authorization was passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and empowered the president "to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States."

"I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act," Paul said introducing his measure. "Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it."

Interestingly, this is an issue that has brought some Republicans and Democrats together.

Yesterday, Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Hill that he was interested in bringing a measure forward, if President Obama cooperated.

The newspaper reports:

" 'The administration is not producing witnesses, which makes such an important issue very difficult to formulate,' said Menendez, whose committee would be responsible for working on an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) bill.

" 'You would think that they would want to work with us, so that we can fashion an AUMF that would give the president the wherewithal to fight ISIL successfully but by the same token, tailor it enough so we don't end up in an open-ended conflict as we have seen under the 2001 AUMF,' Menendez said, using an alternate name for the terrorist group."

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, who authored a similar AUMF on the House side, praised Paul in a statement.

"Regrettably, it looks more and more likely that Congress will skip town before debating and voting on a new authorization for war against ISIS," Schiff said. "Senator Paul's introduction of a war resolution today is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of bipartisan members calling for a debate and vote over a new authorization to use force and a repeal of the existing ones."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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