June 15, 2016

On National Security, Congress is Missing in Action

Congresswoman Lee Leads Efforts to Bring Common Sense & Constitutional Responsibility to the Pentagon’s Spending Bill

Washington, DC – As the Pentagon’s annual spending bill moves to the House floor, Congresswoman Lee will be offering and supporting several amendments to enhance national security, promote human rights and restore Congressional oversight to our nation’s unchecked war-making power.

“Once again, Congress is preparing to double down on the abdication of our Constitutional responsibility to oversee our nation’s wars and national security,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Simply too much is at stake for Congress to quietly pass the buck on our national security.”

Congresswoman Lee will offer a bipartisan amendment to force a Congressional debate on an updated war authorization (AUMF). Her amendment would restrict funding for the 2001 AUMF that was passed for the specific purpose of dismantling al-Qaeda following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001. The amendment language provides Congress with sufficient time to draft, debate and vote on an updated and specific AUMF.

“More than fourteen years ago, Congress wrote a blank check for endless war to any President. This AUMF has since been used as the unclassified justification for at least 37 military operations in 14 countries,” said Congresswoman Lee.  “My amendment  would force Congress to do its job by providing ample time to draft and debate an updated AUMF. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve a Congress with the courage to debate the cost and consequences of the war, which they are being asked to fight."

Congresswoman Lee offered a similar amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this year. “I will continue to find and utilize every opportunity to force this debate. Our brave servicemen and women simply deserve better and the Constitution requires it.”

Additionally, Congresswoman Lee is co-sponsoring the bipartisan McGovern-Jones-Lee amendment to restrict funding for Iraq and Syria operations until Congress passes an updated AUMF. She is also supporting a bipartisan amendment by Congressman Ted Yoho to prevent the unauthorized expansion of war into Libya.

“I cannot allow another servicemember to leave their family and fight a war that Congress cannot even muster the courage to debate,” added Congresswoman Lee.

Together with Congressman Jared Polis, Congresswoman Lee is also working to rein in outrageous Pentagon spending. Today, the Pentagon consumes more than half a trillion dollars, half of the annual federal discretionary budget. The Polis-Lee amendment would reduce accounts by one percent excluding accounts that directly support servicemembers and their families including personnel and Defense Health Program account.

“For decades, military experts have cautioned Congress that unchecked spending, especially at the Pentagon, is ballooning our national debt and endangering our nation’s security,” said Congresswoman Lee. “In the 21st century, we need a smart, strategic national defense strategy. We can no longer afford ‘pet project’ weapons systems that are unnecessary or the Pentagon’s unchecked levels of waste, fraud and abuse.”

Earlier this year, the House adopted the Burgess-Lee amendment to the NDAA, which mandates reporting on the audit-readiness of Pentagon accounts.

She is also co-sponsoring an amendment by Congressman Conyers to prevent the transfer of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia.

“Cluster munitions are outdated and simply cruel. They are indiscriminate killers, serve no useful purpose and must be discontinued,” added Congresswoman Lee.

Finally, Congresswoman Lee will be supporting the bipartisan Massie-Lofgren amendment to cut off funding for warrantless wiretaps and unjustified searches of the communications of American citizens.

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Democrat Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.