(CNSNews.com) - "We have to stop politicizing issues of war and peace," Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, said on Wednesday. She said she is worried about "mission creep" in Iraq, where U.S. troops are fighting and dying in a war that has not been authorized by Congress.
"This is a country now that's in war," she told CNN. "We've been on war footing for many, many years now, at least since 2001. It's a serious, serious moment for us. Why in the world is Congress missing in action? We're the people's house. The people deserve us to represent them properly and appropriately."
Lee said the American public should "demand" that Congress debate "what the new war footing means and what it entails in terms of a long-term commitment to what it appears to be now -- a perpetual war."
The combat death of another American soldier in Iraq this week "is an example of why I have been calling for Congress to do our job. We're missing in action," Lee said.
"I'm very worried about mission creep. Of course, additional forces were sent into Iraq several months ago. Now we have another 250, quote, 'advisers,' which we see, unfortunately, we're putting our advisers in harm's way.
"And so what the president is doing in terms of his responsibilities of commander in chief, he is exercising without congressional oversight and without congressional authority.
"The Congress has a really important and serious role in this," Lee said.
She noted that President Obama currently is using a 2001 resolution, which authorizes the use of military force (AUMF) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack. She said Congress needs to take up a new AUMF that applies to the current fight.
"The president, in terms of the use of force, needs that authorization, needs that from Congress. We need to debate it. Some members may support it. Some members may not support it. But the public deserves that, and we need to insist that the speaker and the Senate majority leader bring forth a resolution."
"We have to make sure that the public buys into this," she said.
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, has been calling for Congress to debate a new AUMF for more than a year.
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