Senate Democrats are going to wait until after the election to authorize military action against the Islamic State

Senate Democratic leaders

Senate Democrats have decided to punt on a resolution authorizing military force against the ISIS until after the mid-term election, handing a blank check to President Barack Obama to act unilaterally in the interim:

“We’re going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force. It’s long overdue,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The authorization would focus narrowly on ISIS, likely bar the deployment of ground troops and set a one-year time limit on military action.

The plan to vote on a resolution specifically authorizing strikes against the extremist Sunni group could help reassure liberal Democrats nervous about supporting a measure that authorizes President Obama to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria.

Durbin announced the roadmap at a Democratic leadership press conference shortly before the chamber was scheduled to vote on a government funding measure that included the so-called Title 10 authority to train the rebels.

Why are Senate Democrats waiting until after the election? Well, they don’t want to do anything to upset their base, some of whom could stay at home because of dissatisfaction with what they could see as the party getting the United States into another Middle Eastern quagmire. If some leftist Democrats stay home, it could further endanger the party’s already slim chances of holding onto the upper chamber.

Really, a vote authorizing military force is sort of a meaningless exercise, which is shouldn’t be, given the constitutional role Congress is supposed to play on the question of war. President Obama has already indicated that he’s, basically, going to war with or without congressional approval. Even Republican leaders are willing to let the White House do what it wants, with no real threat of consequences.

Though there are some from both sides of the aisle who want Congress to vote on the authorization of military force, leadership from both parties and rank-and-file members have decided to, at least for the time being, decline to perform one of the most basic functions of their job.

Sure, we can talk all day long about how President Obama deserves impeachment, but most members of Congress deserve a similar fate. That’ll never happen, of course. But voters do have a remedy. After all, there is an election this fall.

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