February 27, 2018

Members of Congress Call for a Debate and Vote on Ongoing Wars

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Justin Amash, in conjunction with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and House Liberty Caucus, hosted a bipartisan ad-hoc hearing on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). At the hearing, experts joined Members of Congress to discuss the implications of the open-ended 2001 AUMF and proposed frameworks for an updated war authorization.

“Today’s critical hearing showed that a growing, bipartisan group of Members are calling for a debate and vote on our ongoing wars. We are saying that enough is enough. The 2001 AUMF is a blank check for war – plain and simple. For far too long, our brave service members have risked their lives around the world, while Congress has failed to even debate these military operations,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Every day that Congress delays, we become further entangled in these conflicts. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to hold a debate on these endless wars.”

"The Constitution vests the power to declare war in the legislative branch," said Congressman Amash. "It wasn’t a decision made lightly. Though modern presidents like to ignore this point, the Framers were quite clear that the president isn’t to decide when or why we go to war. As commander in chief, the president directs the war once it’s authorized, but Congress must authorize it."

More than 100 members of Congress, including 96 Democrats and 10 Republicans, also signed onto a letter to Speaker Ryan urging him to allow an AUMF debate and vote on the House Floor. As the letter to Speaker Ryan notes, “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson voiced his intention to commit U.S. troops to an indefinite military presence in Syria.” The Members of Congress added, “We believe the President must present a strategy and seek the approval of Congress before any additional military action is taken against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, other nations’ military forces, or other non-State actors. If the President will not send an AUMF we ask that you bring forward an AUMF for consideration for a debate and vote.”

The letter to Speaker Ryan is available here. To watch a livestream of today’s hearing, click here.