January 11, 2018 / 4:43 PM / 7 months ago

Key U.S. senator says progress made on new war authorization

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Thursday that progress was being made on legislation to give Congress more control over the U.S. fight against militant groups in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) stands in an elevator as he arrives for a nomination vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress have long argued that they ceded too much authority over the military to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and now they are trying to rein in some of that power by approving a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF.

“There’s a lot of progress being made on the AUMF and I think we’re going to be in a place really soon to have a mark-up,” Republican Senator Bob Corker said during a committee hearing on Syria.

When congressional committees “mark up” legislation, they debate, consider amendments and vote on whether to approve it for a vote in the full Senate or House of Representatives.

In October, President Donald Trump’s top national security aides pushed back against congressional calls for a new AUMF, saying it would be a mistake to impose geographic or time limits on the campaign against Islamic State and other militant groups.

Previously, divisions over how much control lawmakers should exert over the Pentagon have stymied repeated efforts to pass a new authorization to cover campaigns such as the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Under the constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to authorize war. But presidents have used AUMFs passed in 2001 for the fight against al Qaeda and affiliates, and one passed in 2002 for the war in Iraq, to justify a wide range of conflicts since, prompting many lawmakers say a new AUMF is long overdue.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell

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