WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize military force against the so-called Islamic State.
The legislation from Welch and co-sponsor Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., would pave the way for the United States to send troops into Syria and Iraq. Welch has long said Congress should debate the issue, rather than leaving it up to the White House alone.
“Under the U.S. Constitution, it is the responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force,” Welch said Thursday. “Since August 8, 2014, when military action against ISIL began, Congress has been absent. Since then, our military has delivered 8,573 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq at a cost to the American taxpayer of $5.2 billion. One American service member has been killed.”
“It is time Congress did its job by debating and deciding on America’s role in defeating ISIL,” Welch continued. “The failure of Congress to do its job is an abdication of its Constitutional responsibility and an indefensible transfer of power to the executive.”
Currently, President Barack Obama has been able to order military action based on the authority granted to the executive branch by Congress following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. During his address Sunday from the Oval Office, Obama called on Congress exercise its Constitutional authority and debate the authorization of military force.
Welch, for his part, said he “strongly opposes” sending a significant number of troops into Syria.
Welch said that, thus far, he has been pleased with what he called the “restraint” Obama has exercised, while recognizing the president’s time in office is winding down.
“I’m actually pretty apprehensive about some of the rhetoric we are hearing from the Republican candidates for president,” Welch said. “Authorization of military force would clearly define how force would be used and would prevent another open-ended military campaign like Iraq and Afghanistan.”
When – and if – the bill will come up for debate will depend upon the Republican Congressional leadership.