Rep. Barbara Lee’s lonely voice gets deserved company

Rep. Barbara Lee’s voice has been in the wilderness so long that she seemed as surprised as anyone to hear a response. “Whoa,” she tweeted when a congressional committee passed her proposed repeal of a war authorization that has been used and abused since Lee was its lone opponent 16 years ago.

Passed by the House Appropriations Committee this week with bipartisan support, the East Bay Democrat’s repeatedly rejected amendment would end the 2001 authorization of use of military force that effectively abdicated Congress’ war powers. Congressional leaders are already threatening to block the measure, which would force a debate they have been dodging for more than a decade, but the committee vote vindicated Lee’s principled persistence on a matter of life and death.

Three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Lee cast the only vote in Congress against broadly authorizing the president to make war on groups and nations linked to the terrorist assault. Since then, as Lee told the committee, the resolution has served as a blank check invoked more than 37 times to justify military action in 14 countries, including not only Afghanistan and Iraq but also Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Georgia.

Congress’ long-standing failure to exercise its constitutional authority over war has now been joined by President Trump, who has relinquished much of his power to determine troop deployment levels to the Pentagon. Lee’s stance is a challenge to her fellow civilian leaders to muster a sliver of the bravery they ask of our armed forces.

To read this editorial as it originally appeared, click here. 

By:  SF Chronicle Editorial Board
Source: SF Chronicle