Hill Progressive Leaders Come Out Against Obama’s AUMF: ‘Too Broad’

Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA

President Barack Obama’s proposed authorization for the use of military force against the Islamic State militant group just gained a notable opponent: the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In a statement Friday on behalf of the roughly 70-member caucus, progressive lawmakers came out against the AUMF proposal, complaining that it was “too broad” and lacked a strict ban on the deployment of ground troops.

“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.

“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.

The progressive caucus chiefs said any restrictions in the new declaration would be “irrelevant” unless Congress says the 2001 AUMF in the wake of 9/11 doesn’t apply to the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, in an illustration of Obama’s tough balancing act, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had the opposite complaint: that the AUMF proposal was too restrictive.

“The president has tied his own hands and wants to tie his hands even further with the authorization that he sent up here,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “I think it’s time for the White House to develop and outline for the American people how we’re going to address this worldwide terrorist threat, and to make sure that the president has the authorization to deal with it.”

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