By Matt Saintsing
Congress may finally be reining in the era of unchecked endless war.
Despite the fact it has been used by three presidents to send thousands of troops and countless airstrikes into seven countries, some veterans of the post-9/11 era may not have heard of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Rep. Barbara Lee was the sole vote against the 2001 AUMF on grounds it could be used by the Bush administration, along with future administrations, to wage war on people and in places that had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks.
In Thursday’s House markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, an amendment proposed by Rep. Lee that would end the 2001 AUMF was passed. If enacted, this would give Congress 240 days to debate, discuss, and vote on a new, more defined AUMF before the current one would end.
“At long last, I am pleased that my Democratic and Republican colleagues supported my effort to put an end to the overly broad blank check for war that is the 2001 AUMF,” Lee said in a statement.
A new debate on an AUMF would give Congress the opportunity to debate issues of conflict — one of their Constitutional duties.
Gen. Joe Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has come out in support of a new AUMF.
“We have all the legal authority that we need right now to prosecute Al Qaida, ISIS, other affiliated groups, but my recommendation to the Congress was that they pass an authorization of use of military force,” he said while speaking to reporters last week at the National Press Club.
“And I thought one of the more important things is that our men and women that are in harm’s way would see a clear and unmistakable.”
A new AUMF is already in the Senate.
Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake introduced a new AUMF against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and the Taliban in May of this year.
“We owe it to the American public to define the scope of the U.S. mission against terrorist organizations, including ISIS, and we owe it to our troops to show we’re behind them in their mission,” Kaine said in a statement.
Rep. Lee’s amendment remains uncertain as appropriations bills are often heavily lobbied and drastically changed.
“When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than fifteen years, and counting. It is past time for Congress to voice its support for the war against ISIS, something many military officers and diplomats working to defeat ISIS have advocated for, and for Congress to reassert some of the authority it has abdicated over the years,” Flake added.