ISIS AUMF Proposal Comparison Chart

Recently, there have been renewed calls for Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and several members of Congress have released proposals for a new law. For nearly 16 years, longer than any war in the nation’s history, the executive branch has been using the 2001 AUMF as the primary legal basis for military operations against an array of terrorist organizations in at least seven different countries around the world. The executive branch’s continued reliance on the 2001 AUMF for military operations far beyond what Congress originally authorized undermines Congress’ important constitutional role as the branch responsible for the decision to go to war. Continued reliance on outdated and ill-defined war authorizations that blur the line between war and peace undermine national security, U.S. leadership in the world, and human rights both at home and abroad.

To ensure that the United States is empowered to counter the terrorist threat while upholding the rule of law and maintaining global legitimacy, it is important that any new AUMF be precise enough to prevent unintended expansion of the authority, while also remaining flexible enough to account for groups like ISIS that may go by more than one name, or may in the future rebrand themselves under another name.

This chart summarizes the most prominent ISIS AUMF proposals, and includes some commentary on why certain provisions are beneficial or problematic. For more information, including how to draft an effective AUMF for ISIS, see our detailed issue brief, available here:


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Published on October 25, 2017


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