By Jonathan Greenberg, Originally published in The Hill
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) again promised during his victory speech last week in the Iowa Caucuses to “utterly destroy ISIS.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has promised to “crush” the Islamic State. Donald Trump has stated that he would be tougher on ISIS than other candidates. If Republican presidential candidates are ready to act against ISIS, why is it that Republicans in Congress will not pass a resolution authorizing the president to take military action?
Indeed, Republicans on Capitol Hill appear to have shockingly little appetite for an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS that nearly everyone agrees is necessary. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had previously cleared some logistical hurdles that might have allowed a vote, senior Republicans made clear last week that no vote on the AUMF against ISIS was on the horizon.
Some congressional Republicans are concerned about the politics of authorizing the president to use the military. They shouldn’t be. The U.S. is already conducting military operations in Syria and Iraq; we’re just using an AUMF passed a week after 9/11 and providing a specific legal framework for targeting those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the attacks of the previous week. Republicans who support taking the fight to ISIS (which is to say nearly all of them) and those who support legal clarity in the conduct of our military affairs (which should be all of them) should be lining up to get this bill passed.