The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee took Washington D.C. by surprise Thursday, approving an amendment that revokes a 2001 law which gives the president authority to wage war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Lawmakers on the committee applauded when the amendment to revoke the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was added to a defense spending bill by a near-unanimous voice vote.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., would give Congress 240 days to pass new legislation granting the president executive authority to wage war against ISIS. The 2001 AUMF would be repealed at the end of the 240 days.
The AUMF was initially approved to provide the executive branch the legal authority to take military action against the al-Qaeda terrorist network in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Critics of the AUMF say it has been abused by the executive branch to wage endless war without the consent of Congress. The law has been used to justify military actions 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, including the Iraq War and the ongoing fight against ISIS.
The amendment has a long way to go before it becomes law. It’s unclear whether the Senate will approve the measure and include it in the final draft of a defense spending bill that will inevitably be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
“The last 16 years, it has become increasingly clear that this AUMF has essentially provided the president, any president, the authority to wage war in perpetuity,” Lee said.
Lee said she was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001 because “I knew then it would provide a blank check to wage war anywhere, anytime, for any length by any president.”
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
Lawmakers have struggled for years to modernize the AUMF to fit the scope of America’s modern military conflicts.
Supporters of the AUMF say it would be dangerous to constrain the president’s ability to respond to military threats in the modern age.
Lawmakers on the other side of the issue cite Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which grants Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.
House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, was the only member of the committee to oppose the amendment.
The AUMF “is necessary to fight the global war on terrorism,” Granger said. “The amendment is a deal breaker and would tie the hands of the U.S. to act unilaterally or with partner nations with regard to al-Qaeda and … affiliated terrorism. It cripples our ability to conduct counterterrorism operations.”
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