Lawmakers looking to have more military action oversight

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) says new threats have developed since the current AUMF following September...
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) says new threats have developed since the current AUMF following September 11th. (GRAYDC)
Published: Aug. 18, 2017 at 3:12 PM EDT
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Lawmakers want more say in American military action. Legislation passed by Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) says the White House needs to do more to keep members of Congress informed. Cole says with changing international threats, Congress needs to approve an updated plan.

“We’ve been at war under the same instrument for 16 years,” said Cole.

Cole is calling for an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Originally passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, it gave the White House authority to use force against those responsible for, or associated with the attacks.

“When that was passed nobody thought we would be fighting in Syria. ISIS didn’t exist. We’ve gone into 14 or 15 different countries,” said Cole.

Cole’s legislation, attached to the National Defense Authorization Act spending package, calls for the White House to provide a detailed strategy on how to combat new enemies like ISIS, al-Qaida and the Taliban. Cole says the plan needs to be run by Congress and that the president should not be acting alone when it comes to military endeavors.

“If you deploy men and women to combat, they need to know, number one it’s constitutional, and number 2 that they have the full support of Congress, which in the end is supposed to devote resources for war,” said Cole.

This administration has acted alone in the past, notably when the White House ordered the firing of 59 tomahawk missiles on Syria in April. Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, says this president leaves all options on the table.

“This president, unlike the prior president, understands that at the end of the day, diplomacy without the option for use of force behind those words in just empty rhetoric,” said Gorka.

Gorka noted a 21,000-pound bomb dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan, an example of decisive action with no Congressional oversight. Gorka wouldn’t say whether President Trump would notify Congress about possible military action as tensions heighten in North Korea.

“We don’t give our playbook away. We have authorities vested in the Constitution of the United States to take actions if there is an imminent threat,” said Gorka.

The National Defense Authorization Act is currently waiting for approval in the Senate.