Read between the lines of senior lawmakers’ statements about a congressional vote to authorize President Obama’s war on the Islamic State (IS) group and one realizes Congress may not vote at all.
As the US military — joined by Western and select Arab partners — bombard IS-controlled facilities, oil refineries and vehicles, rank-and-file lawmakers are declaring their readiness to return to Washington to cast a “tough vote” on whether to formally authorize the air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
“Oh, absolutely. I’ll come back and vote,” House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”
“I think we should vote on giving the president further authorization,” Meeks said. “In fact, I asked Secretary [of State John] Kerry when he came before the Foreign Affairs Committee at a hearing last week whether or not the [Obama] administration would want that and would work with us in getting that done. He said absolutely.”
Moments earlier on the same program, House Deputy GOP Whip Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said this: “I certainly would go back.
“I made that, you know, position abundantly clear when I spoke in the House last week in session,” Cole said. “I thought we should be doing a full authorization. I continue to believe we should. I’ve been more than happy to go back and do it.”
There is bipartisan agreement on one thing, at least: A willingness to hit the airwaves and lobby for a vote that appears highly unlikely in September or October as Congress focuses on the Nov. 4 midterm elections at home. They won’t be back in Washington until Nov. 12.
What might an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) for the IS war look like? Will Congress vote in a November-December lame duck session? Will Congress vote at all?