US Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is like the fellow you ask over for dinner time and again who always has a reason to decline the invitation. He says, in turn, that he has to work late, has to deal with a family emergency, needs to feed the neighbor’s cat, and is too tired. The excuses pile up, and you finally get the message: The guy won’t come over, but he lacks the backbone to just say “no.”
For nearly a year, Boehner has been proclaiming his desire for the House to debate and vote on the Islamic State (ISIS) War that the executive branch has been pursuing. But, instead of scheduling a vote, something the House Republican leadership does regularly for all kinds of legislation, Boehner keeps coming up with new excuses for letting the war proceed without any House consideration.
The responsibility for inaction resides with Boehner and the House Republican leadership. They could have put a declaration of war, or just an authorization for use of military force (AUMF), on the House floor anytime on their own. To insist, as Boehner has repeatedly during the ongoing US military action in Iraq and Syrai, that the House can only work from a proposed AUMF from President Barack Obama is just a way to duck responsibility.
Boehner proclaimed on May 19 his newest excuse for blocking a House debate and vote on the war. Boehner now says the proposed AUMF legislation for the ISIS War that President Barack Obama sent to the House over three months ago is not quite right. Therefore, Boehner says, Obama should start over, writing a new proposed AUMF and sending that to the House. Boehner returned to the matter in a Tuesday press conference in which he complained that the proposed AUMF Obama sent to Congress in February is not “a robust authorization that will allow the president to use the tools at his command to actually go out and fight and win this war.”
Boehner’s critique of Obama’s proposed AUMF does not even square with reality. Boehner is criticizing Obama’s proposed AUMF as too weak. However, Obama’s proposed AUMF that has been sitting in the House since February is actually so broad and elastic that it allows for extensive worldwide US military action, including fighting by US ground troops, irrespective of nebulous assurances of restraint contained in the proposed AUMF.
Further, Boehner had his opportunity to advise Obama regarding what should be in a proposed AUMF and refused to do so. Asked in a December 4 press conference if Obama should include “American troops on the ground leading that fight” in a proposed AUMF, Boehner answers, “I’m not going to speculate on what the president should suggest to the Congress in terms of what that authorization should look like.”
Hold on a minute there. Boehner is actually saying that, while Obama’s proposed AUMF from February is not right and the president should send the House a new proposed AUMF that is right, Boehner will not say what should be in a proposed AUMF to make sure it is right.
Unless Obama can read Boehner’s mind, Boehner’s request for a new proposed AUMF is an invitation for months more of continued House inaction. Reviewing some of Boehner’s previous statements and deeds regarding House consideration of the ISIS War it is hard to conclude otherwise than that the House Republican leadership desires such inaction.
The reality is that Boehner has been playing a game with the ISIS War authorization issue all along. While Boehner talks big, the last thing he has wanted to do is have a debate and vote on the House floor.
Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.