U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, speaking to more than 300 graduates at Virginia Military Institute on Monday, renewed his call for Congress to debate and vote to authorize military action against the Islamic State.
Citing 21 months of fighting, 9,000 air strikes, $7 billion spent and 17 American deaths, including the May 3 combat death of U.S. Navy Seal Charles Keating in northern Iraq, Kaine urged Congress to debate President Barack Obama’s September 2014 request for support of the mission against the Islamic State.
Under the Constitution, to go on offense against any enemy requires a vote in Congress, Kaine said.
“What could be more immoral than ordering troops to risk their lives in a war that Congress is unwilling to publicly support?” Kaine said.
Kaine, who noted one of his children is a Marine combat infantry commander, read the names of all 17 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who have died in the fight against Islamic State.
“I maintain that the absence of a congressional vote on the war against [Islamic State] suggests we lack resolve. Our allies and our adversaries read it that way. And our troops wonder if we’ve got their backs in this important fight. So why has Congress been silent?”
Kaine urged two steps: first, a vote to authorize the current fighting; and second, a broader reform of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Kaine, with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, has called for a new War Powers Consultation Act to develop a better framework for deciding if and whether to go to war.
Kaine previously has introduced a congressional authorization of military force against Islamic State. It was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on to the floor of the Senate in December 2014, where it died without a vote.
He tried again in June in a resolution introduced with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. That proposal, too, stalled.