The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee thinks the current Congress should stick around long enough to consider an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State, and he's reiterating that as the Senate wraps up its work.
Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., moved a use of force resolution through his committee Thursday, and then filed it as an amendment to one of the last trains leaving the station this year — the catchall "cromnibus" spending bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already used the procedural tools at his disposal to prevent amendments, but senators frequently file them anyway for messaging effect. An aide to Menendez told CQ Roll Call that the the chairman "believes the Congress needs to act on an AUMF to authorize the new war against ISIL. The Cromnibus is the last potential vehicle where a vote could potentially occur on the AUMF in 2014."
Menendez's AUMF language in the amendment is the text that came through his committee on a partisan split vote, 10-8. The debate over authorizing force against the terror group is expected to resume in earnest in 2015, when Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee will become chairman.
The Senate gaveled into session at noon Saturday, with senators planning to work all the way until 1 a.m. Sunday, slogging through procedural votes to allow Reid and his Democrats to confirm up to 20 of President Barack Obama's nominees before the Congress adjourns and Republicans take control. At 1 a.m., the Senate would vote to invoke cloture — limiting debate — on the spending bill itself.
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