The White House is expected to seek congressional authorization within days for military operations against the Islamic State. This could start a political fight that could see the administration clash with members of both parties over how much authority to give the president regarding the fight with ISIS.
Barack Obama is preparing to send “specific legislative language” for what is known as an authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, that provides federal legal backing for overseas operations, according to sources.
The White House was working to transmit its recommendations to Congress as early as Friday, although that could change. White House officials have been speaking extensively with individual lawmakers in recent days about the AUMF, in part to build support for what they deliver to Congress, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Lawmakers said they want the White House to spell out what if any limitations are appropriate in the fight against Islamic State, including whether and how combat troops are used and whether there is a time limit on the fight.
Democrats and Republicans would have different reasons for limiting authorization. Democrats would wish limit the amount of bloodshed and the use of war in foreign policy:
“We need to learn lessons from prior authorizations, and one of them clearly is we can’t do open-ended, unending authorizations,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) said.
Republicans would like to limit any authority the president has, in all areas:
“It’s also going to be incumbent upon the president to go out there and make the case to the American people for why we have to fight this fight,” said John Boehner (R., Ohio), adding, “It’s not going to be an easy lift.”
Whatever the White House delivers to lawmakers is unlikely to forestall a political fight that could make moving an authorization through Congress difficult. House and Senate members, sensitive to war-weary voters and wary of providing an open-ended authorization, are expected to try to limit what the White House can do, a position more hawkish lawmakers are expected to oppose.