06.02.15

Congresswoman Lee Fights To Stop Endless War in Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s amendment recognizing the Congressional role in debating military force against the Islamic State passed the Appropriations Committee in a bipartisan vote.

This amendment recognized that Congress should exercise its constitutional duty to debate and vote on an authorization for the use of military force against ISIL.

“More than eight months into yet another open-ended war in the Middle East, Congress has yet to live up to its constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on this war,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The President sent Congress an authorization, it’s past time that the Speaker allow a debate and vote on such a critical national security issue. I am glad that this amendment passed in a bipartisan manner and I look forward to continuing to build on this momentum to demand a debate and vote.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee also introduced three additional amendments to the Defense Appropriations bill during the full committee mark-up.

One amendment would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). In 2001, Congresswoman Lee was the lone vote in opposition to this war authorization. According to a 2013 Congressional Research Services (CRS) report, this AUMF has been publicly used more than 30 times to justify troop deployments and other actions including detentions at Guantanamo Bay and warrantless wiretaps.

“The 2001 AUMF is a blank check for endless war.  It is an abdication of Congress’s constitutional responsibility to give the American people a voice on matters of war and peace,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Currently, any President can wage war in any place, at any time against nearly any enemy without Congressional oversight or debate. The American people deserve a voice in deciding whether or not our country goes to war.”

Another amendment introduced by Congresswoman Lee dealt with the 2002 AUMF, passed by Congress in the build-up to the Iraq War. The 2002 AUMF authorizes U.S. military action in Iraq in perpetuity. President Obama has called on Congress to repeal this open-ended military authorization. 

“Three year after President Obama ended the ill-conceived Iraq War, we still have an authorization for military action on the books. The war is over. Congress should recognize this by repealing this blank check for endless war,” said Congresswoman Lee.

Finally, Congresswoman Lee introduced an amendment to end waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon.

Her amendment, which was included in the Manager’s Amendment, requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress a list of DOD agencies and department ranked by their audit-readiness status. 

Twenty five years ago, Congress passed the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, which required an audit of all federal accounts.  More than two and half decades later, Pentagon officials continue to report that audit-readiness is years away.

“Unauditable is unacceptable. It has been 25 years and the Pentagon is still reporting that audit-readiness is years off. We need to bring immediate accountability to the Pentagon and prevent further waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Congresswoman Lee.

In addition to her amendments, Congresswoman Lee spoke in favor of Ranking Member Visclosky’s (D-IN) amendment to transfer $38 billion from the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

“The OCO is a slush fund that allows the Pentagon to fight wars off the books,” added Congresswoman Lee. “The American people deserve better than budget gimmicks that hide the real costs of our wars.”

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.