The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday voted to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Thursday's development marked the first time any members of Congress have had a chance to vote on the war, even though the Obama administration has already been using military force against ISIS for months. The group emerged as a threat nearly half a year ago, and the United States assembled a large international coalition against ISIS three months ago. Some members of Congress, like Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, are skeptical President Obama has the authority to be waging war without a new vote of approval from Congress.
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The Foreign Relations Committee passed the measure by a partisan vote of 10 to eight. The measure limits the fight to three years, and it bars the use of ground troops for combat operations. On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration would prefer a broader measure that doesn't limit the use of ground troops -- even though Mr. Obama has no plans to put boots on the ground.
Chairman Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, said he would try to get the bill up for a vote before the full Senate, but with just days left in session, that's unlikely to happen. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, the top Republican on the committee, acknowledged as much and promised to keep the issue alive in the next Congress.
"I think we ought to go ahead and vote, and move on, and know that this is something that will continue," Corker said.
Even if the Senate were to keep working on the matter, it's going nowhere in the House. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, who authored a House version of the war authorization, urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to take up the issue without delay.
"To adjourn for the year, as appears imminent, without addressing one of the most fundamental issues of the day, is a terrible abdication of Congress's power to declare war," he said in a statement Thursday.