Senator Johnson Must Get Serious On Fighting ISIS

Dec 15, 2015

Senator Johnson Must Get Serious On Fighting ISIS

Despite making repeated efforts to criticize his political opponents and propose a massive ground invasion, incumbent Senator Ron Johnson is refusing to carry responsibility for defeating ISIS by passing an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

An AUMF, or Authorization for the Use of Military Force, is a Constitutional requirement for Congress to grant the president power to fight an enemy.

Over the past two years, Johnson has both a) insisted that the Constitution required the president to seek an AUMF from Congress, and b) wouldn’t support an AUMF for Obama, only for a president “that’s actually serious about these issues.” Yet now, Johnson says he could not support an AUMF unless it didn’t restrict presidential power at all. (1)(2)(3)(4)

Today, during an interview at Politico’s Playbook Breakfast, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s statements provided stark contrast to Senator Johnson’s inconsistency on AUMF, saying it would be a “good sign for American foreign policy to have a new one updating our AUMF to declare our mission, with respect to ISIS,” Ryan added that “Congress is the one who declares war. This is Congress’ responsibility.”

It’s clear Senator Johnson has no real plan to defeat ISIS. Johnson has advocated putting U.S. troops on the ground as part of a coalition to move ISIS out of its safe areas. Just two weeks ago, the senator said 25,000 American troops would be needed to fight ISIS as part of a 100,000 troop coalition – a full scale war. Just yesterday, Senator Johnson changed his tune to supporting sending 10,000 American soldiers to fight ISIS in the Middle East.

“Despite constantly bashing his political opponents and calling for a reckless third Iraq invasion, Ron Johnson still hasn’t offered a serious plan to defeat ISIL,” said Kory Kozloski, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “While Russ Feingold has laid out a tough, comprehensive plan to defeat this enemy, Ron Johnson seems content to just play politics.”

  • 1) Johnson Wanted President Obama To Seek Congressional Approval To Strike Syria But Would Not Say If He Would Vote For Approval. “Elsewhere in the Wisconsin delegation, Sen. Ron Johnson told The Post-Crescent in Appleton Tuesday that he wants the president to make any case for intervention to the American people as well as Congress. ‘Whether or not I’ll support something the president proposes depends on what he proposes and how he conveys what’s in his proposal to the American people,’ Johnson said.” [Gannett News Service, 8/28/13]

  • 2) Johnson Said He Supported An Authorization Of Military Force Against ISIS But Only Under A President “That’s Actually Serious About These Issues.” “More than nine months into the U.S. military operation against ISIS, senators are struggling to find a path forward on overcoming deep political divisions to authorize the war. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, are pledging to try to find common ground on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), but they’re also downplaying expectations. […] Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a member of the committee, suggested that he would back passing an AUMF but doesn’t believe that Obama is ‘fully committed.’  ’Maybe when we elect a new president that’s actually serious about these issues, the Congress will be able to take that up and offer a true authorization of military force to someone who’s actually committed to the goal,’ he said.” [The Hill, 5/16/15]

  • 3) Johnson Opposed Sending Troops To Fight ISIS Under President Obama’s Leadership. “Johnson told WisPolitics.com afterward that he supports more U.S troops in Afghanistan but that he would not vote to authorize troops to fight ISIS in Syria and elsewhere because he doubts Obama’s commitment to success. ’I certainly don’t see that in the authorization to use military force that he presented to us.’ he said. ‘It’s going to be so difficult right now with this president in office. We’re going to have to try in some way, shape or form, to get by the next couple of years.’” [WISPolitics, 4/12/15]

  • 4) Johnson Could Not Support An Authorization For The Use Of Military Force Against ISIS That Would Restrict Presidential Power.  JOHNSON: “So no, I would love to have the administration support a authorization for use, use of military force that would, that would actually defeat ISIS combined with a strategy to do.  That is not what this President has presented Congress.” [00:02:26.12] INSKEEP: “You’d rather vote on nothing then?” [00:02:29.08] JOHNSON: “What is happening right now, he’s using an authorization for use of military force that, quite honestly, I don’t, I can see where critics say that that doesn’t apply to the situation but he’s using it and it is not restricting his activities and would not restrict the activities of future President and what he’s offering us in terms of one he would be willing to sign would actually restrict his use and that of a future President. That’s what I can’t support.” [NPR, Morning Edition, 12/7/2015] (AUDIO)