Policy

Rand Paul Seeks Islamic State Use-of-Force Debate

Wants to get Senate colleagues on record on military force

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul wants to revisit the post-9/11 issue of congressional approval for the use of military force. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Might senators actually have to vote on using military force against the Islamic State?  

They will if Sen. Rand Paul gets his way, as the former presidential candidate from Kentucky confirmed Monday he is pushing to have an amendment called up to declare that the post 9/11 measures authorizing use of military force do not apply to current conflicts.  

"We will try to get a vote on it," Paul said when asked about his plans to use the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill as a vehicle for a long-simmering argument about the scope of the existing authorizations, which the Obama administration has relied on for using American military air power and a small number of troops in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS.  

The senator wrote an opinion piece for Time magazine outlining his call for at least a symbolic vote on the use of force.  

"My colleagues who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution should support my amendment or at least have the decency to debate it," Paul wrote. "Think about it for a moment. These original authorizations were passed back when some of the men and women fighting in our current conflicts were still small children. No president—including this president— deserves this kind of extra-constitutional power."  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week he did not foresee a path forward for an authorization measure that he could support, which based on McConnell's past statements would grant broad authority to the executive branch to fight the Islamic State.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who crafted a a sweeping measure , told reporters Monday he doesn't plan to offer it as an amendment. However, if Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine offers his own far more narrow war authority as an amendment, Graham will offer his to counter it.  

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.. Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.