Sen. Rand Paul released his promised bill declaring war against the Islamic State on Wednesday, challenging the White House's ability to act under existing authority and separating himself from more hawkish members of his party with strict time and ground troop limitations.
The Kentucky Republican will try to attach the proposal to the defense authorization bill likely to come before the Senate next week. Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin has urged members to pass the National Defense Authorization Act under unanimous consent, without controversial amendments—such as Paul's—that could derail its passage.
"He would like to [use NDAA as a vehicle], if he's given the opportunity," said a senior Paul staffer. If the Senate fails to move the bill under unanimous consent, "you could see Rand using a procedural mechanism to get a vote on this." The aide said Paul would prefer to see a stand-alone vote on the declaration, but because that is "not realistic," the NDAA is the next-best option.
Paul's announcement comes as he and his fellow contenders for the GOP presidential nomination jockey for position on foreign policy issues. On Tuesday Paul reasserted his reluctance to take America to war and refused to pledge to increase defense spending as president. Likely 2016 rival Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, called for a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy, including tough sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and ground troops to fight the Islamic State.