Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News on her landmark legislation, the War Powers Reform Resolution, that would restore Congress’s leadership in the nation’s foreign policy and finally put an end to unauthorized forever wars.
Specifically, Gillibrand’s War Powers Reform Resolution would amend the War Powers Resolution to ensure no Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) are used to continue perpetual wars that compromise the country’s national security. In order to deploy armed forces into hostilities, the legislation would require the president to provide Congress with a clear objective for military action; evidence that the use of the United States’ armed forces is necessary, appropriate, and proportional to the mission; a finite list of adversaries; and the names of the countries where the US military will deploy. Critically, the legislation would place a two-year limit on any future authorization, and deny appropriations for unauthorized wars. It would also repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.
The full text of Gillibrand’s op-ed may be found here and below.
Last week, I returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Kuwait, where I visited our brave service members and thanked them for their many sacrifices during the season of Thanksgiving. These troops are some of the best and brightest our country has to offer. I am grateful and humbled by their dedication to serving our country.
Their continued deployment in places like Afghanistan, however, is a reminder that they are fighting a war that has gone on for almost two decades and has expanded to over a dozen countries — nearly all of it without specific congressional approval.
Congress granted President George W. Bush the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, for a quick military response to the terrorists who attacked us on our own soil. A year later, it passed the AUMF authorizing war in Iraq. But Bush, and the presidents who followed, used these authorizations to involve our military in other conflicts far beyond their original intents. Service members have fought and died in Niger, Syria and Yemen on the basis of these authorizations.
The founders of our country gave only Congress the power to declare war. They understood both the danger of giving any one person too much power and the fact that when war is waged, it is the American people who bear the burden and should thus have their voices heard. In recent years, Congress has relinquished its power to authorize war against new enemies or in new countries, and failed to meet its fundamental responsibility to hold presidents accountable for endless and unnecessary wars.
A healthy recent exception was when the House and Senate voted to end U.S. military support for the disastrous Saudi war in Yemen. But this exception is a unique circumstance that proves the rule.
Of course, we know that terrorism has not been extinguished. Even after the death of Osama Bin Laden and the decimation of Al Qaeda’s leadership, terrorists aiming to harm Americans have continued to metastasize. One need look no further than ISIS, which has inspired or claimed terror attacks in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and more.
But meeting the terror threat does not require sending U.S. troops to fight foreign battles. Today, terrorists recruit and plan online, and they have struck us and our allies regardless of who physically controls a country.
To combat terrorism, we must leverage the sophisticated strategies that are America’s advantage. We have the best-trained intelligence professionals, quickest reaction forces, and top military assets deployed around the world. There is no geography we cannot reach on short notice. Our toolbox of diplomacy, alliances and development assistance has served us for decades, and we must double down on these tools once again.
We also can put an end to these forever wars by passing my legislation, the War Powers Reform Resolution. It would reinstate Congress’ authority to review military action from the president and end the manipulation of congressional authorizations for use of military force.
My legislation would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, eliminating the ability of President Trump or any future president to continue the nearly two-decades-old wars our service members are still fighting. It would limit all future AUMFs to two years and require the president to provide Congress with the specific military objective, enemy and location for the military action, along with a clear justification for that action.
It would also renew Congress’ power to end wars by allowing them to narrow or repeal an AUMF through the same expedited procedures used for creating one. Lastly, it would limit the use of congressionally appropriated funds to support only the actions authorized under the AUMF, restricting actions beyond its scope.
It is time to reclaim Congress’ full foreign policy and national security role by changing the way military action is authorized. Endless wars, and ill-advised deployments, must be things of the past. Instead, focused and deliberate military action must be used sparingly and only when we need it most. We owe it to our service members, their families, and to the American people.