Congressman Garamendi on ISIS: Congress Should Vote on Military Action

Press Release

Date: Sept. 9, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Foreign Affairs

Following a classified briefing in the House Armed Services Committee and a briefing by President Obama to Congressional leadership, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) renewed his call for a Congressional vote on military action against the brutal terrorist group self-identified as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Congressman Garamendi will carefully analyze the strategy the President presents tomorrow, and he wants Congress to vote to authorize any extended action as required by the War Powers Resolution and U.S. Constitution.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of U.S. Constitution vests in Congress the power to declare war. This responsibility was clarified under the War Powers Resolution, which authorizes the President to engage in military action for 60 days to respond to immediate obligations before seeking Congressional approval. An additional 30 day period is authorized under the War Powers Resolution to give the military adequate time to withdraw. Congressman Garamendi believes the 60-day window in our military campaign against ISIL ends on October 7th, although the precise date is subject to some interpretation.

Garamendi issued the following statement:

"The U.S. Constitution and War Powers Resolution are clear: Congress is obligated to weigh in on extended U.S. military actions. No matter how noble the cause, no matter how just the engagement, Congress' voice and vote are required within a 60-90 day window.

"Following a reign of barbaric terror that included the horrific murder of two American journalists, it is clear that the Islamic State is a serious threat -- most immediately to the people of the Middle East. ISIS's recruitment of American and European fighters is also threatening to America and our allies. After examining the classified reports, I believe that a coordinated multi-national and multi-ethnic response to this terrorist group can be an effective option for us to pursue. U.S. air support has already helped Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, and other persecuted groups escape an ethnic cleansing campaign. With our help, the critical Mosul Dam is once again controlled by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, preventing unspeakable calamity.

"When it comes to matters of war and peace, we must be deliberative and careful. I opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq precisely because I thought it would destabilize the region, strengthen Iran, and empower stateless extremists to gain a foothold. I've been a leading voice in Congress in trying to end the dangerously vague and open-ended post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force, and I've introduced amendments that would require Congressional votes before further military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was one of the first Members of Congress to urge caution and a vote of Congress before bombing Syrian President Assad's chemical weapons. Such action in Syria's complex civil war could have strengthened ISIS's position in the region.

"Our current limited air strikes and special operations missions against the Islamic State have a clear purpose and are narrow and targeted in scope. We also continue to build regional support and our actions are being accompanied by the establishment of a more inclusive Iraqi government. There is no military solution to the ISIS threat, but I think a comprehensive plan to isolate and marginalize them will be effective.

"I look forward to hearing the President's strategy against the self-described Islamic State in his address before the American people tomorrow, but it's incumbent on Congress to vote on that strategy if it involves military action. To do otherwise ignores our Constitutionally-required duty. The people we represent and our brave men and women in uniform deserve better than that. They deserve a vote."