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Congress Reconsiders Untouchable Iraq War Bill

After months of disagreement about a U.S. mission against the Islamic State, a bipartisan team of senators is attempting to give American efforts legal backing.

Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake have introduced a stand-alone measure that would provide legal basis for sending ground troops to fight against the terrorist group, to “protect the lives of United States citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL.”

White House-drafted bill has gone largely untouched in Congress since February. That bill blocks permanent deployment of ground troops in Iraq until 2018. In the meantime, it would justify the ongoing airstrikes and advisory forces participating in the limited fight against ISIS.

President Barack Obama’s administration justifies ongoing American efforts against the Islamic State with a law, called an Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF), that allows for military actions against those who perpetrated the 9/11 terror attacks. (RELATED: Delta’s Recent Raid In Syria May Have Revealed An Inconvenient Truth About Fighting ISIS)

Some critics of the current war against Islamic State, which has gone on for nearly a year, say it has stretched the 2001 AUMF beyond recognition. Though Islamic State has its roots in an Iraqi al-Qaida franchise, there are no longer any formal links between the two groups. In fact, ISIS and al-Qaida have become bitter rivals in the field of international jihadi terrorism.

But many, including House Speaker John Boehner, also say that the White House-backed draft AUMF against ISIS does not go far enough.

This week’s measure came alongside the administration’s announcement that the U.S. would send 450 new military advisors to Al-Taqaddum Air Base in central Iraq. (RELATED: US Announces New Military Approach To Beating ISIS)

Kaine and Flake’s bill would repeal a 2002 AUMF which first sent U.S. troops to Iraq, and would itself expire after three years. According to The Wall Street Journal, Kaine anticipates the bill will be a “starting point” for legislators to “kick its tires and say what they don’t like about it.”

Another bill in the House of Representatives, introduced by Democrats Jim McGovern and Barbara Lee together with Republican Walter Jones, would force a vote on an AUMF, or else require the administration to withdraw all advisory troops from Iraq by the end of 2015.

Follow Ivan Plis on Twitter

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