[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 12 (Thursday, January 21, 2016)]
[Pages S153-S154]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. MURPHY. Madam President, today I have come to the floor to speak 
very briefly about a resolution that the majority leader introduced, I 
believe, yesterday. This is an authorization for military force that 
apparently purports to give the President legal authority to conduct 
military operations against ISIS. Before we break for the weekend, I 
thought it was important to come to the floor to explain very briefly 
to my colleagues what this resolution really is.
  This resolution is a total rewrite of the war powers clause of the 
U.S. Constitution. Let's be clear about that. It is essentially a 
declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of 
military power to the President that will allow him or her to send U.S. 
troops almost anywhere in the world for almost any reason with 
absolutely no limitations.
  Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution vests in Congress 
the responsibility to declare war. Many of us on both sides of the 
aisle have been arguing for over a year that the President--right now--
has exceeded his constitutional authority in continuing

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military operations against ISIS without specific authorization from 
Congress. I have been amongst those who have been calling on this body 
to debate authorization of military force. So in that sense I am 
pleased the introduction of this resolution may allow us to have a 
debate on the Senate floor about the right way to authorize war against 
our sworn enemy, ISIS, a terrorist organization that deserves to be 
degraded, defeated, and wiped off the map of this Earth.
  While the ink is still wet on this resolution--so I will not endeavor 
to go into any detailed analysis of it--it is safe to say that this 
resolution is the wrong way to authorize war against ISIS. The language 
of this resolution is dangerous and it is unprecedented.
  The American people want Congress to authorize war against ISIS, but 
they also want us to make sure we don't send hundreds of thousands of 
U.S. soldiers back into the Middle East to fight a war that has to be 
won first and foremost with regional partners, and they certainly don't 
want Congress to hand over the power to the President to send our 
troops into any country, anywhere in the world, for almost any reason.
  That is what this resolution would do. It doesn't give the power to 
the President to deploy U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. It gives the 
power to the President--without consulting Congress--to deploy U.S. 
forces in any one of the 60-plus countries where ISIS has a single 
sympathizer. Even worse, the language doesn't even require ISIS to be 
present in a country for the President to invade. All that is necessary 
for the President to be able to argue--with a straight face--is that 
the threat of ISIS was present.
  As we have seen in the United States, the threat of ISIS is present 
in virtually every corner in the world. Thus, this resolution would 
give the President total absolute carte blanche to send our young 
soldiers to any corner of the world without consulting Congress.
  Now, we wouldn't have to worry about a President abusing this 
authority granted to him if an example of this abuse wasn't in our 
immediate rearview mirror. This Congress gave President Bush sweeping 
authority in two resolutions to fight terrorism in the wake of 
September 11, and he manipulated and abused that authority to send 
millions of American troops into Iraq to fight a war under concocted, 
false pretenses. He got an open-ended authorization from Congress, and 
he ran with it. Now, what did we get for this colossal 
misrepresentation? Over 4,000 Americans dead, scores more than that 
crippled, and a region in chaos, in large part because of our 
disastrous invasion and occupation.
  On the campaign trail today, several of the candidates for President 
talked with such irresponsible bravado about throwing around America's 
military might. The likely Republican nominee, as we sit here today, 
shows a blissful ignorance about U.S. military law and basic foreign 
policy that is truly frightening.
  So given recent history and given the current rhetoric on the 
Presidential campaign trail today, why would we give the President such 
open-ended, sweeping authority ever again? And why would we even 
contemplate a resolution like this one that makes the 9/11 and Iraq war 
resolutions seem like exercises in thoughtful restraint? Why would we 
make the mistake of the Iraq war resolution again, especially when 
there is an alternative?
  I know that we will likely have time to debate the question of how to 
properly authorize war against ISIS later. But in December of 2014, the 
Foreign Relations Committee did vote out an AUMF that gave the 
President all the power he needed to fight ISIS, while making sure that 
he had to come back to Congress if he wanted to dramatically expand the 
current conflict to other countries or to put hundreds of thousands of 
American troops into a new war in the Middle East. It is the only AUMF 
that has received a favorable vote by the Senate, and it is a template 
for how we can authorize a war that isn't totally and completely open-
  Several have argued for us to take up a debate on the AUMF because we 
believe that over the last 15 years, over the course of the War on 
Terror, Congress has basically abdicated its responsibility to be the 
voice of the people on the conduct of foreign policy. Many of us think 
that a smart AUMF would get Congress back in the game when it comes to 
our constitutional responsibility to decide when and where our brave 
troops are sent into battle. But this resolution, as currently written, 
would do exactly the opposite. It would permanently hand over war-
making power to the President, and Congress would never get it back. It 
would allow this President and the next President to send our troops 
almost anywhere in the world for virtually any justifiable reason, with 
no ability for the people's branch of the Federal Government--this 
Congress--to step in and to have our say.
  I do look forward to this debate if it does come to the floor. I 
think it is an immensely important debate. Frankly, I will be glad to 
have it. The American public wants us to declare war on ISIS, but they 
want us to do it in a way that doesn't repeat the deadly, costly 
mistakes of the past.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Portman). The majority whip.