July 14, 2020

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Amendments to Stop Endless Wars Adopted by House Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Appropriations Committee today adopted the Fiscal Year 2021 Defense spending bill including three amendments by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) to end authorizations for endless wars passed nearly 20 years ago and to reassert Congressional authority over any use of military force against Iran.

The Appropriations Committee included Rep. Lee’s amendments in the Defense bill to do the following: 

  1. End Congress’ 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) granting a blank check to the President to wage war against anyone, anywhere, at any time.  The 2001 AUMF would sunset effective 240 days after enactment of the law.
  2. Repeal the 2002 AUMF authorizing military force against Iraq, which no longer serves any operational purpose as deployments and operations carried out under the 2002 AUMF officially concluded in 2011.
  3. Block the President from starting a war with Iran absent express authorization from Congress.

“It is far past time to bring almost two decades of nonstop war to an end,” Congresswoman Lee said. “The forever wars which have spanned wider and wider across the globe have cost us approximately $6.4 trillion and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The war in Afghanistan is the longest war in American history with troops now fighting a war that was launched before they were even born.  Enough is enough.”

Since its passage almost 20 years ago, the 2001 AUMF has been cited at least 41 times in 19 countries to wage war with little or no Congressional oversight. It also has been used as legal justification for warrantless surveillance and wiretaps, targeted killing by drones, indefinite detention practices at GITMO and open-ended expansion of military operations abroad. Sunsetting the AUMF after 240 days gives Congress and the White House time to decide what measures, if any, should replace it.

The 2002 AUMF authorizing force against Iraq contains no sunset provision. Leaving it on the books indefinitely creates a danger that Presidents will use it to justify military action that Congress never intended to authorize. Rep. Lee’s amendment would repeal the 2002 AUMF in its entirety.

The last amendment makes it clear that the President cannot go to war with Iran without authorization from Congress. It would not prohibit the President from responding to an attack on the U.S. or our allies, but ensures that the President must come to Congress to seek authorization for war in accordance with the Constitution.

The Defense Appropriations bill approved by the committee today will go to the floor of the full House later this month.