Will Biden be stripped of war powers? POTUS slammed after calling off second Syria strike: ‘He murdered 22 people’
Presidential war powers are one of the few areas to have bipartisan support both for and against
President Joe Biden called off a second airstrike in Syria after learning that women and children were near the drop zone. On February 26, Biden authorized an airstrike on an Iran-backed militia in Syria, but a second one was called off just 30 minutes before the drop. The first strike went ahead, killing one fighter and wounding two according to the Pentagon. It was the first use of force from the Biden presidency, causing alarm bells to go off in Washington.
Many on Capitol Hill were worried about letting Presidents use force, which has now led to the introduction of a bipartisan bill that could repeal the President's ability to authorize strikes in the Middle East. It is the first attempt by Congress to wrestle back a power it originally had but was handed to the President in 1991 during the Iraq war.
While Trump used the ability to order strikes to great effect, Biden has called for a more measured approach. But, if his actions are anything to go by, the president will continue to use the power further reportedly causing harm to the war-torn region.
Authorizations for force a Congressional duty
While the president is the commander-in-chief, he does not technically have the authority to order strikes or the use of military force. That power rests with Congress under the constitution. In 1991 and 2002, Congress passed bills handing Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to the president, paving the way for prolonged wars in Iraq and other regions in the Middle East.
Since then, Congress has largely abdicated its role to oversee military force, a power that both Republican and Democratic presidents have used to varying degrees.
In 2001, Geroge W Bush used the ability to declare war on the Taliban. Obama has also used the ability to direct the fight against ISIS. Under Trump, AUMF was used to kill Iranian General Solemani, bringing the US and Iran to the brink of war. Now, Biden has authorized his first strike as president, reportedly without consulting Congress.
The shocking and sudden nature of the strikes has caused Congress to ask if the power has gone too far. "Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch — regardless of party — will continue to stretch its war powers. The 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force serve no operational purpose, keep us on a permanent war footing, and could allow future misuse," Sen Tim Kaine, a Democrat tweeted.
Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch—regardless of party—will continue to stretch its war powers. The 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force serve no operational purpose, keep us on permanent war footing, and could allow future misuse. https://t.co/i9XMLD3qeH— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) March 3, 2021
New bill to roll back president's powers
Kaine is one of several sponsors of the new bill that aims to repeal the 1991 and 2002 bills. It was co-sponsored by Todd Young as well as Tammy Duckworth, Chris Coons, Dick Durbin, Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley and Rand Paul.
This is not the first time such a bill has been introduced, Kaine has long been pushing to repeal the bills but the aftermath of the strike has given a new sense of urgency to the task. In 2019, after winning back the House, Democrats began efforts to repeal the laws but were met with stiff opposition by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Senate.
Critics are also upset that Biden did not notify Congress ahead of the strike. According to Politico, Biden wrote in a letter to congressional leaders that he ordered the strikes in “self-defense”. However, that argument has not gone down well with some. "I still need to be convinced that any president has the authorization required to take a retaliatory strike, especially outside of Iraq," Sen Chris Murphy told Politico.
Presidential war powers are one of the few areas to have bipartisan support both for and against. Conservatives like Mitch McConnell, Jim Inhofe and Mike Rogers have hailed Biden's strike while others like Grassley and Paul are now spearheading the effort to curtail such use of force.
‘He murdered 22 people in Syria last week’
Many were disappointed in Biden for the Syria strikes and lambasted him on Twitter. “Such a sweet guy @JoeBiden. He murdered 22 people in #Syria last week but he did call off a second airstrike because a woman and children would have been blown to bits. What a gentle family man,” one tweet read.
Another said, “Does Biden even know he gave the order to bomb Syria? Hiden Biden,” replying to a tweet read, “Does anyone else find it kinda weird that @JoeBiden hasn’t held a press conference after bombing Syria? Usually, a president would give the people an update on that type of situation.”
A third slammed him saying, “By the time the @joebiden first term is over we will have bombed Syria 16 times, the kids will still be in cages and the minimum wage will still be $7.25 an hour. That's called extrapolation and it's science.”
Such a sweet guy @JoeBiden. He murdered 22 people in #Syria last week but he did call off a second air strike because a woman and children would have been blown to bits. What a gentle family man 🥰 https://t.co/5FExQiKDlQ— Geeraard 🤔 Peeters (@GeePeeters) March 5, 2021
Does Biden even know he gave the order to bomb Syria? Hiden Biden— Aggie Patriot (@LadyAg2) March 5, 2021
By the time the @joebiden first term is over we will have bombed Syria 16 times, the kids will still be in cages and the minimum wage will still be $7.25 an hour.— 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗴𝗺𝗮 - 𝗕𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗵 𝗼𝗳 𝗡𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘀 (@benigma2017) March 5, 2021
That's called extrapolation and it's science. https://t.co/ev1CkZEvvU