House Repeal of AUMF and Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Advocacy

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted for an amendment from Representative Barbara Lee (CA) to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). If repeal of the 2001 AUMF is passed, Congress would need to pass a new AUMF or the Administration would need to remove American military personnel from current wars during an eight month period after approval.

Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA), was the only person to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. The AUMF was signed by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001.

“A nearly 18-year-old, all but limitless authorization for war is neither a responsible nor a sustainable foundation for our national security or national security policy,” said FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall. “Repealing the 2001 AUMF would serve as a significant step forward toward reining in never-ending war and militarism abroad. It also makes certain that our elected leaders are on record for which wars they support and which wars they do not.”

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

The United States has conducted counterterrorism operations in 80 countries since 2001—including combat in 14. During that same period of time, some 7,000 American service members have been killed. Representative Lee’s amendment would help bring to an end nearly 18 years of never-ending war.
“For going on 18 years, three presidents have used the 2001 AUMF as a blank check for endless war around the globe. These wars have cost $5.9 trillion and resulted in the deaths of approximately 500,000 people,” explained Heather Brandon-Smith, FCNL’s Militarism and Human Rights Legislative Director. “This over-militarized approach to terrorism has clearly failed. In fact, there are now more terrorist groups than on 9/11 and the Afghan Taliban controls more territory than at any time since 2001.”
The 2001 AUMF has no geographic restrictions, no time limit, and no constraints on which kinds of force may be used. It does not clearly name the groups with whom the U.S is at war. Each administration since it passed has cited the AUMF as the legal basis for military operations abroad without congressional approval.

AUMF Repeal A Step Forward for Peace by Timothy McHugh, May 21, 2019, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

The House Appropriations Committee voted to advance an amendment to a defense spending package on Tuesday that would sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) issued after the 9/11 attacks. The bipartisan legislation would provide Congress with new tools for containing the Trump administration as it meddles in foreign conflicts and stokes military tensions with Iran.
Rep. Barbara Lee and other House Democrats are expected to announce a new push to repeal the 2001 AUMF on Wednesday. The latest effort in Congress to scrap the longstanding authorization comes as lawmakers react to the escalating tensions between Iran and the unpredictable Trump administration, which boiled over on Twitter over the weekend after President Trump warned that Iran would face its “official end” if Tehran provokes the U.S. military.
Lee has already introduced the legislation as a standalone bill. Both bills would sunset the AUMF eight months after passing, giving Congress time to review current areas of military deployment that require congressional authorization, according to Heather Brandon-Smith, the legislative director for militarism and human rights at the pro-peace Friends Committee on National Legislation.
“The eight-month sunset is to give Congress time to properly examine current conflicts and figure out whether to authorize continued participation in any of them,” Brandon-Smith told Truthout in an email. “This would require that the White House be more transparent and give Congress the necessary information to make this decision.”
Administration officials are reportedly building a case to declare Iran a terrorist threat in order to circumvent Congress and launch military strikes under AUMF authority.
The standalone legislation, H.R.1274, briefly declares that the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify “broad and open-ended” authorizations for military deployment across the world, and this interpretation is “inconsistent” with Congress’s war-making authority under the Constitution and its original intent in issuing the AUMF within days of the 9/11 terror attacks.

As Iran Tensions Rise, Congress Moves to Curb Trump’s War Powers by Mike Ludwig, Truthout, Published May 21, 2019

The idea of FCNL Advocacy Teams is to have a coordinated campaign of people all across the country speaking with their Congressional representatives about one specific topic. FCNL Advocacy Teams, more than fifteen hundred constituents in roughly 100 teams throughout the country, have been working on AUMF repeal since January. Their advocacy has been focused on building co-sponsorship of the amendment and will continue to do so as momentum for its full passage grows. You can find more information about AUMF here: https://www.fcnl.org/updates/what-we-re-reading-on-aumf-repeal-2088

For years the Authorization for the use of military force has been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Quakers. In 2014 the following letter was approved, to be sent to our Congressional delegations.

As members of the Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative), we continue to oppose the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
There are grave constitutional concerns about the AUMF, as it erodes the separation of powers and prevents adequate, effective checks and balances between the branches of U. S. government. The brief 60 words of the AUMF do not contain geographical or temporal limits, dangerously leaving open the door for this and future presidents to claim the authority to wage war against anyone at any time.
The Congressional Research Service report last year revealed that Presidents Bush and Obama publicly invoked the AUMF over 30 times, to justify military action in Djibouti, Georgia, Ethiopia, Yemen, and elsewhere.
It also poses significant threats to human rights, civil liberties, and the fulfillment of moral obligations. It has been used as part of the legal justification for indefinite detentions, acts of torture, mass surveillance, and an expansive drone war that has killed thousands of people far from any battlefield. These policies harden extremist sentiments, diminish the rule of law, and weaken American security and integrity.
The President has at his disposal adequate means to counter violent extremism, and if he believes at any time he lacks necessary authority, he can petition Congress, which can debate and decide that question. This is infinitely preferable to living in a permanent state of war.

In the Light of God’s Love,
Deborah Dakin, clerk
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Religious Society of Friends
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