Senator lambastes Congress on IS
Washington - Congress' failure to even debate US military action against Islamic State nine months after air strikes began is cowardly and shameful as Americans fight an undeclared war, US Senator Tim Kaine said on Thursday.
Kaine, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been a steady critic of Congress' failure to authorize military force against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq despite a US-led bombing campaign that began Aug. 8.
In a US Senate speech to mark the beginning of the 10th month of the military campaign, Kaine lambasted Congress for its inaction.
“The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful,” Kaine said.
The United States has lost American service members, spent more than $2 billion, and conducted more than 3,000 bombing runs without Congress even talking about authorizing military action, he said.
“How can we explain to our troops, our public or ourselves this complete unwillingness of Congress to take up this important responsibility?” Kaine said in the speech.
President Barack Obama asked Congress in February to authorize the use of military force (AUMF) against Islamic State after agitation from lawmakers who were worried that the military campaign overstepped his constitutional authority.
But the request has made little progress.
Obama's fellow Democrats worry about getting involved in another Middle East war, while the Republicans who control Congress want stronger measures than those Obama has proposed.
House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said last month Obama's proposal did not have enough support to pass.
Kaine questioned why Congress “allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked” and said lawmakers are either indifferent or “lack the backbone” to do their job.