Sen. John McCain said Sunday he opposes any ISIL war resolution that puts limits on the power of the president, saying on “Meet the Press” that such restrictions were “unconstitutional.”
“To restrain him in our authorization of him taking military action, I think, frankly, is unconstitutional and eventually leads to 535 commanders in chief,” the Arizona Republican told host Chuck Todd.
McCain’s remarks highlight the delicate line the Obama administration has been walking in developing and selling an authorization of military power against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, between those who fear Congress would be granting President Barack Obama too much power and those who fear Congress would be improperly handcuffing the president. On ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) spoke for the former group, saying it was “very important to not write another blank check.”
“This authorization goes beyond the term of this president — we don’t know who the next president will be or what their intentions will be,” Schiff told Jon Karl. “And the problem with writing something so broad, that has no sunset date, no geographic limitations … but some of my colleagues are advocating for no sunset date.”
McCain, calling the president’s policy both inadequate and convoluted, has frequently criticized Obama for his handling of the situation in the Middle East — he did so again Sunday — but he made it clear that he believes Congress had no business putting limits on the nation’s commander in chief.
“I think we should not restrain the president of the United States. The Congress has the power of the purse. If we don’t like what the commander in chief is doing, we can cut off his funds for doing so,” McCain said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), McCain’s colleague on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed with him about restricting the authorization to three years.