After the past 16 years since terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has pushed to revoke U.S. presidents from having the authority to declare war.
On Thursday, she stood up again and proposed an amendment to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This time, her proposal was literally applauded by both Republicans and Democrats and anonymously approved.
“Whoa,” Lee wrote on Twitter as she realized that her long battle was finally won. Her amendment, which will be adopted in the House Appropriations defense bill, will revoke the AUMF eight months after the passing of the defense act. In the meantime, Congress will be compelled to vote on a new law.
Whoa. My amdt to sunset 2001 AUMF was adopted in DOD Approps markup! GOP & Dems agree: a floor debate & vote on endless war is long overdue. pic.twitter.com/FS8LfYWo5J
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 29, 2017
Voicing her opposition during the debate, defense subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) said the amendment “ would tie the hands of the U.S. to act unilaterally or with partner nations with regard to al Qaeda and … affiliated terrorism.” But most of the speakers were for it.
“I feel like my world is rocked, because I see these very different opinions and yet I agree with you,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), an Air Force veteran, said during the debate on the amendment. He later told The Hill, “President Obama wasn’t interested in expanding this authority and he wasn’t interested in this debate. Many of us believe we have a president that is more likely to help us on this rather than resist.”
George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have all used the AUMF to justify military actions, including the Iraq War and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has repeatedly called for a new war authority throughout the years — stating that any president needs Congressional authorization for military action — but lawmakers have largely avoided debating the issue.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, said that now is the time. “We’re at war against an enemy that did not exist in a place that we did not expect to fight. How an AUMF that was passed 16 years ago — before I was in Congress — could possibly be stretched to cover this is just beyond belief to me,” he said during debate.
Stewart said that the bill will be discussed by the House leadership when lawmakers return from the July 4 recess, but a specific date has not been scheduled. “We’re going to have to talk,” he said. “We just haven’t had the time to look at it. We will, I just don’t know when.”
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