At Armed Services Committee Hearing on War Against ISIL, Garamendi Asks for Legal Justification, Urges Authorization Vote

WASHINGTON, DC - At the House Armed Services hearing on the Administration’s Strategy and Military Campaign against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Armed Services Committee Member Rep. John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) asked pointed questions about the continuation of the war without explicit Congressional authorization. This week, the Administration requested an additional $5.6 billion for the campaign.

In the hearing, Congressman Garamendi asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey if we are at war in Iraq and Syria. The General said yes.

Congressman Garamendi then asked the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel for the Administration’s legal justification for conducting this war. The Congressman noted that he and many other Members of Congress do not believe that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs provide legal justification for today’s war, and therefore, a new Iraq and Syria specific AUMF is necessary to continue military action and appropriate the $5.6 billion to continue conducting the war.

“I cannot in good conscience vote to fund an unauthorized war,” Congressman Garamendi said. “With a sufficiently narrowly tailored mission, there are Authorizations for Use of Military Force against ISIL that I could support, but that’s not what we’re debating today.”

“Congress is surrendering its Constitutionally-required duty to explicitly authorize this conflict,” Garamendi added. “So long as we continue to rely on AUMFs that were written before ISIL even existed, we are inappropriately condoning the use of an outdated piece of legislation as the basis for authorizing unlimited open-ended war whenever terrorism exists. Respectfully, that’s a dangerous extension of executive authority and a disavowal of Congressional responsibility. I hope the American people are paying close attention.”

Under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, following the beginning of a war, the Administration has 60 to 90 days to seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from Congress outlining the mission and goals of the conflict. We are now well past 90 days of war against ISIL, and there is currently no AUMF vote planned by the House Republican Leadership who control the House floor schedule.