Democrats In Congress Are Suddenly Concerned About Presidential Exercise of War Powers

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., gestures while speaking before the California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

File this story under cynical and transparent political opportunism:

Twelve House Democrats and one Republican are calling on President Donald Trump to formally declare war against the Islamic State and submit a resolution to Congress that limits his war powers — a request that is not likely to be heeded.

The letter, led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and obtained by POLITICO, comes as the Pentagon is considering options for ramping up its nearly three-year campaign against ISIL and follows a request by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan for thousands more troops in a war against the Taliban now entering its 16th year.

“For too many years, Congress has ignored these ongoing wars,” the lawmakers write. “Our brave service members face countless dangers for our nation and we owe it to them to act on an AUMF without delay.”

The lone Republican signatory calling for the authorization for use of military force is Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina. Jones last week became the only Republican to back a bill co-sponsored by House Democrats to create an independent commission to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The letter is also signed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a leading candidate in the race to chair the Democratic National Committee.

Lawmakers are urging Trump to submit a draft war resolution that provides “specific information on the geographic, combatant and tactical scope” of the war against ISIL. They are also asking for it to include a sunset provision and repeal the 2001 AUMF that authorized force against those responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The irony here is inescapable. None of this was important to these clowns so long as their guy was in the White House. When Obama did submit a draft AUMF it was done with the express idea of locking future presidents into his failed anti-terror policy.

Making war is a congressional power. If this issue is really important to her then Barbara Lee, instead of engaging in political grandstanding, should prevail upon her colleagues to do this properly. Congress should hold hearings, get the administration’s input and craft an AUMF and present that document to the president rather than complaining that Trump isn’t doing their work for them.