July 19, 2017

Ryan rescues Trump, strips bipartisan amendment to repeal authorization for use of military force

“What is he afraid of?”

Just after midnight on Wednesday, the House Rules Committee quietly stripped Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment that would repeal the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force from a defense spending bill the House is expected to vote on shortly.

Lee took to Twitter to express her frustration and the placed blame on House Speaker Paul Ryan. She tweeted, "Ryan stripped my 01 AUMF repeal amdt from DOD Approps in the dead of night. This is underhanded & undemocratic. The people deserve a debate!"

In late June, Rep. Lee reached a milestone 16 years in the making when her amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF passed with bipartisan support in the House Appropriations Committee. The move was surprising, considering the committee, like all others, is majority Republican. Many saw this bipartisan move as a response to a commander-in-chief with shaky foreign policy skills as tensions escalate in Syria, North Korea, and elsewhere.

Last week, Lee told a California newspaper that House leadership was stonewalling attempts to get her amendment to the House floor for debate, citing technicalities. Lee’s amendment is attached to a defense spending bill, which Paul Ryan sees as an inappropriate place to put legislation that sets policy.

“They control everything,” Lee told the newspaper. “That’s how this place works?—?it’s in many ways undemocratic.”

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Rep. Lee blasted Ryan for his undemocratic tactics:

“Over the years, I’ve seen Republican leadership deploy every manner of undemocratic, underhanded tactics in Congress. But stripping my bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF?—?in the dead of night, without a vote?—?may be a new low from Speaker Ryan. Congress has been missing in action on matters of war and peace for nearly sixteen years. Republican leadership showed last night that they will do anything to maintain this status quo. Refusing to debate and vote on our ongoing wars is an abdication of our constitutional responsibility. Our men and women in uniform deserve better. Speaker Ryan should explain why he is undermining the democratic process and acting in such an autocratic manner. What is he afraid of?”

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has added an amendment to a separate defense bill that would require military officials to detail what they would like to see in a new authorized use of military force. While not a repeal, it is acknowledgement that Congress should reconsider the AUMF.

“Sooner or later, Congress needs to take responsibility,” Cole told the House, “we have slipped into almost endless warfare in a lot of places that none of us anticipated we would be.”

The Pentagon has also supported a new AUMF. Last month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. told Congress: “It would send a loud and unmistakable message to our young men and women deployed that the people at home in the form of the Congress support what they’re doing.”

The 60 words that comprise the 2001 AUMF have since been used to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries, among them, the war in Iraq and the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The authorization has been characterized by Rep. Lee as a “blank check” for war. Hastily written in the days following the attacks on September 11, 2001, Lee was the only member in both houses of Congress to vote against it over concerns that its language was too broad.

Lee hasn’t given up. She proposed a standalone bill to repeal the AUMF, but it has yet to receive a committee hearing.

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

By:  Rebekah Entralgo
Source: ThinkProgress