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Rand Paul wants Senate vote to declare war on Islamic State

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

JEFF BLAKE/THE STATE FILE PHOTO

By NIELS LESNIEWSKI | CQ Roll Call | Published: November 24, 2014

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Sen. Rand Paul has upped the ante in the debate over the role of Congress in the fight against the Islamic State.

The Kentucky Republican announced Monday he would be introducing a resolution to formally declare war against the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, setting up the possibility of a contentious vote as part of a potential use of force authorization debate next year.

“How and when this is considered is something Senator Paul will discuss with his colleagues and with the Majority Leader,” Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “He believes it deserves a vote and that Congress needs to act sooner rather than later to reclaim its constitutional authority.”

Paul’s joint resolution would provide for the first declared war since World War II.

Of course, it is Paul’s senior Kentucky colleague, Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will assume the title of majority leader next year. McConnell has also pledged a more open Senate chamber in the new Congress, meaning it is more likely such a vote could be required as part of any force debate.

“When Congress comes back into session in December, I will introduce a resolution to declare war against ISIS. I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act,” Paul said in a statement. “Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it.”

The New York Times first reported on the resolution Sunday evening, which would not only formally declare war against the Islamic State but also wind down authorities under the authorizations for use of military force in Afghanistan and Iraq that remain in effect from the George W. Bush administration. The war declaration itself would have a one-year sunset, something likely to be opposed by more hawkish lawmakers.

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