Why Won’t Congress Vote on War With ISIS?

Smoke billows during an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Sinjar, Iraq, on Nov. 12, 2015, to retake the town from the Islamic State.

Photo by SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

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Answer by Tim Kaine, United States senator from Virginia, @timkaine:

My sense is that in both houses of Congress, there is an overwhelming majority of members who believe strongly that the United States should be engaged in some sort of military action against ISIL. Yet, despite that overwhelming consensus—and despite the constitutional demand that we should not be at war without a vote of Congress—there’s been a strange degree of silence on this issue for the past 16 months.

If you look back a few years to the last war vote on Iraq, we saw the political consequences of that vote. I think that may have something to do with why Congress has been unwilling and remained mostly silent when it comes to holding a debate and vote on the war against ISIL.

I believe strongly that the voice of Congress is needed. It’s needed to fulfill our Article I responsibility and to send a clear message to our troops, allies, and adversaries that we are committed to this mission. I think when it comes down to it, deciding whether to go to war and put our service members at risk is one of the toughest votes any member will make during his or her time in Congress.

But taking these votes shouldn’t be an option—it’s our constitutional responsibility, and it’s what the American people and our service members deserve.

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