WASHINGTON — The White House is close to sending a measure to Capitol Hill that would provide a legal framework for the US-led fight against the Islamic State group.
Obama administration officials and lawmakers from both parties have been in agreement for months that Congress should bless America's latest fight against a violent Islamist group. But, so far, neither side has produced a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that could pass both chambers.
"I have a strong sense that something will be coming over soon" from the White House, Senate Foreign Relation Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CongressWatch on Wednesday. "I get the sense that they're very close, yes."
Asked if he expects the White House to submit its AUMF before Congress leaves town for a Feb. 16-20 recess, Corker replied. "Possibly, yeah."
"My sense is that will be the case," Corker said. "But it's in their hands. You never know, at the last minute that might change."
A source with ties to the White House recently told CongressWatch the Obama administration would send its war-authorization measure to Capitol Hill this month. A White House spokeswoman did not reply when asked for comment.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., one of the first lawmakers to call for a new force-authorization measure, told reporters Wednesday that talks between the Hill and administration officials picked up during the last few weeks. Corker reported the same.
The catalyst was Obama's State of the Union address, during which he urged Congress to pass an Islamic State AUMF.
The House Foreign Foreign Affairs Committee and Corker's Foreign Relations Committee would get first crack at amending the White House's coming measure. Those panels have jurisdiction over such matters.
Corker said he expects to begin examining the White House's submission and doing other AUMF work in committee when Congress returns from the Presidents Day recess.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, intends to hold a floor debate and vote on an Islamic State AUMF by the spring.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., late last month introduced a force-authorization measure.
Among other things, his legislation echoes calls from Senate Democrats by prohibiting the use of US ground forces for combat missions in Iraq and Syria.
A House source says White House officials requested Schiff's legislative language to review as they craft their own measure.