Policy

House Rejects Call for New War Powers Resolution to Fight ISIS

Lawmakers adopt amendments to prevent transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees

( Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly).

The House on Thursday rejected two amendments to a defense spending measure that would have effectively called on Congress to pass a new war powers resolution.   

The votes show that Congress is no rush to approve a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, despite a longstanding debate about whether Congress should rewrite the 15-year-old war authorization approved after the 9/11 attacks.  

Many members, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, believe the existing authorization to use force, enacted in 2001, provides the president with the authority he needs to go to war, thus taking away the urgency to enact a new one. Other members feel like that the president's authority shouldn't go unchecked and that the Islamic State terrorist group presents a new kind of threat, requiring a new approach.  

[ Mitch McConnell: New War Authorization Not Happening Anytime Soon ] The House voted 135-285 to reject an amendment offered by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., to block funding for combat operations in Iraq or Syria unless a new authorization is enacted.  

The House also voted 146-274 to reject an amendment offered by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to prohibit funding for the existing authorization beginning on April 30, 2017.   

Other amendments the House rejected included one that would have prohibited unauthorized searches of government databases for citizens' communications and one to prevent Overseas Contingency Operation funds from being used for things other than the account's intended purpose.   

The House narrowly rejected two amendments seeking to prevent immigrants who were granted temporary legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 2012 executive order, from serving in the military.   

Many amendments to the bill were also adopted, including a few designed to prevent the Obama administration from transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to locations within the United States.   

The amended defense appropriations bill passed 282 to 138.   

Contact McPherson at lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @lindsemcpherson. 

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