Congress may be edging closer to formally authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quietly introduced a joint-resolution on Wednesday to authorize the use of military force against the terrorist group. It would grant the administration sweeping authority to combat the Islamic State, though it is far from certain that the measure will receive a vote.
Disagreement over how much authority Congress should hand the president in the fight against ISIS has so far stalled efforts to authorize force on Capitol Hill. McConnell has been sharply critical of the president’s request for military force, and has thrown cold water on the prospect that the Senate would vote to approve it. Even close colleagues were surprised by the move. When the National Journal asked Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn to comment on the fact that McConnell had introduced the resolution, he replied, “He did?”
Whether or not a vote is held, the resolution may revive debate in Congress over how aggressive American military action against the Islamic State should be. It also creates an opportunity for Republicans to cast the president as overly passive in the fight against the terrorist group. The Senate majority leader’s proposal is broader than what Obama asked Congress to pass last February. The president’s proposal did not authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” It was also time-limited: The authorization was set to expire after three years.