02.10.15

Amid Debate on ISIS War Bill, a Democrat Proposes Peace

With President Obama and congressional leaders negotiating the terms of a new war resolution to counter the Islamic State, a key antiwar Democrat is pushing what amounts to a peace bill.

Representative Barbara Lee of California plans this week to introduce legislation to rescind the authority that Mr. Obama has been citing for using military force against the Islamic State, and effectively bar the use of ground troops in a combat role against the Sunni militant group.

Ms. Lee, who cast the lone “no” vote on a broad authorization of the war on terrorism three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is moving to repeal that measure and another passed the following year for the use of military force in Iraq.

Her bid comes as the White House is poised to send lawmakers a proposal for a new military force authorization to go after Islamic State militants — something the president has said he does not legally require but would like to have to show broad American support for the operation.

Ms. Lee’s measure instead calls for Mr. Obama to submit a detailed plan — with timelines, projected costs and metrics for success — for diplomatic, political and economic ways of countering the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“It would be a tremendous error for our Congress to finally debate a long overdue authorization for the ongoing war against ISIL and neglect the important nonmilitary options that comprise a comprehensive solution,” Ms. Lee said on Tuesday.

Under her bill, Mr. Obama would have 90 days to send Congress a report with a detailed accounting of the military equipment the United States is sending to Syria and a description of the number of civilian casualties alleged to have resulted from American airstrikes.

The resolution would also bar the Pentagon from spending any money to deploy ground troops in a combat role against the Islamic State, a prohibition that many Democrats believe is a vital part of any war authorization.

Ms. Lee’s measure has virtually no chance of advancing in the Republican-led House, but it will serve as a statement of principles for the sizable and influential antiwar wing of the Democratic Party that could shape negotiations over the new force authorization.

“Far too often, the conversation in Washington is only about whether to bomb more or less,” said Stephen Miles of the group Win Without War, “not about actually solving the underlying crisis in Iraq and Syria that everyone agrees ultimately has no military solution.”

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