July 13, 2021

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

Washington, D.C. – The House Appropriations Committee today adopted the Fiscal Year 2022 Defense spending bill, which included two amendments by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) to end authorizations for endless wars passed nearly 20 years ago. 

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

  • 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.

  • 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.                                                                                         

“Nearly 20 years after opposing 2001 AUMF, both the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have been used by three successive Presidents to wage war well beyond the scope that Congress initially intended,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Repealing the 2002 AUMF and Sunsetting the 2001 AUMF will help restore Congress’s constitutional responsibility to over matters of authorizing war. It’s long past time that we put an end to blank checks for endless war and put the needs of our country first – especially as we build back from a pandemic and economic crisis.”

Since Congresswoman Lee’s sole “no” vote against the 2001 AUMF, she has been a strong advocate for ending forever wars. In January 2021, Congresswoman Lee sent a letter to President Biden calling for the repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMF. The 2001 AUMF is a 60-word authorization enacted in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The overly broad language of the authorization has allowed the last three Presidents to take military action in seven countries over twenty years.

It has also been used as 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.

On June 17, 2021, the House passed Congresswoman Lee’s bill, HR 256, to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

The Defense Appropriations bill approved by the committee today is now set to go to the floor of the House.