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U.S. House Passes Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bills to Repeal Outdated & Inactive War Authorizations, Prevent Future Abuses of Executive Power

The Congresswoman’s Legislative Efforts Both Passed with Bipartisan Support on the Floor of the U.S. House

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s two bipartisan bills to prevent abuses of presidential power and repeal outdated, inactive Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs).

Last month, Spanberger led the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would repeal the 1991 AUMF against Iraq, which was Congress’ authorization for the First Gulf War of 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait — more than 30 years ago. The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed this legislation last month, and today a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass her legislation.

Ahead of the vote on the U.S. House floor to repeal the 1991 AUMF, Spanberger urged her colleagues to reassert congressional authority and repeal outdated war authorizations — such as the 1991 AUMF. Click here to watch her remarks, and a full transcript is below.

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I rise today in support of repealing the 1991 Authorization of Use of Military Force.

Today, we have another opportunity to demonstrate that Congress is serious about reclaiming Congressional War Powers — and serious about representing the servicemembers and veterans who have served our country. Too often, they have served under authorities that were signed into law decades previously.

While the Constitution is clear — only Congress can declare war, we have steadily surrendered this responsibility to the executive branch.

Building off the House’s vote earlier this month to repeal the 2002 AUMF, we are considering today two additional bipartisan bills that repeal other outdated and inactive AUMFs.

First, we are considering my legislation to repeal the 1991 AUMF against Iraq.

This AUMF was Congress’ authorization for the First Gulf War of 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait — 30 years ago. The short military conflict that took place under this authority has been over for three decades.

We must remove this old, inactive authority from the books. Repealing this AUMF would help ensure that it is not misused or stretched by any American president going forward.

I want to thank the broad range of members and advocates who have supported this legislation and helped bring us to where we are today.

Representatives Gallagher, Golden, and Meijer have been critical partners in this effort to repeal inactive, outdated AUMFs. We come from different political persuasions and different areas of the country, but we share backgrounds in national security, a commitment to serving our constituents, and a focus on our constitutional responsibilities.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Meeks and Ranking Member McCaul are also original cosponsors of our bill to repeal the 1991 AUMF, and they have been instrumental in moving this legislation forward quickly — including a unanimous vote out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this year.

I applaud Chairman Meeks for his leadership of the Committee and for sending a clear message that Congress must assert its War Powers. Even as a Democratic Chairman and with a Democrat in the White House, Chairman Meeks is making clear that this is not about a particular president — it is about fulfilling our obligation as Members of Congress.

Intelligence Committee Chair Schiff, Armed Services Committee Chair Smith, Chair Lee, Rules Chair McGovern, and Rules Ranking Member Cole are also original cosponsors of this bill. And I truly appreciate the many other cosponsors who have been on board with this legislation — many of whom have served our nation in national security roles prior to coming to Congress.

I also want to thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her leadership on AUMF issues and congratulate her on the House voting — with strong bipartisan support — to repeal the 2002 AUMF earlier this month.

Notably, my bill to repeal the 1991 AUMF is also supported by a broad range of foreign policy and veterans-focused organizations.

The American Legion — the United States’ largest veterans service organization — has emphasized the importance of Congress reasserting its constitutional authority over War Powers.

In addition, the many other organizations who’ve been supportive of this effort, I thank them for their endorsement of our legislation.

For years, Americans have been calling on their Representatives in Congress to exercise their responsibility — our responsibility — to make decisions on war and peace.

We cannot simply allow AUMFs to accumulate without congressional action.

We have more work ahead of us as we reassert Congressional War Powers and we reform, repeal, and in some cases, update AUMFs — but today, we can take an important step by passing my widely supported legislation to repeal a 30-year authorization for the use of military force.

So — I urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes to the repeal of the 1991 Gulf War Authorization for Use of Military Force.

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Spanberger’s bill to repeal the 1991 AUMF is endorsed by several veteran-focused and foreign policy organizations — including the American Legion, VoteVets, Concerned Veterans for America, Foreign Policy for America, R Street Institute, and the Project on Government Oversight.

The Congresswoman’s legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05) — Chairman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) — Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Jared Golden (D-ME-02), Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08), Anthony Brown (D-MD-04), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Young Kim (R-CA-39), Gregory Steube (R-FL-17), David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA-04), James McGovern (D-MA-02), Brad Sherman (D-CA-30), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Ami Bera (D-CA-07), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Juan Vargas (D-CA-51), Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), William Keating (D-MA-09), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Colin Allred (D-TX-32), Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), Nancy Mace (R-SC-01), Van Taylor (R-TX-03), and Warren Davidson (R-OH-08).

The U.S. House also voted today to pass legislation Spanberger co-led — alongside U.S. Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI-03) — that would repeal the open-ended 1957 AUMF. This Cold War-era authorization — still on the books today — is more than 60 years old and provides outdated, blank-check authority to the Executive Branch that could be abused by future administrations seeking to expand operations in the Middle East.

BACKGROUND

Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has sought to strongly reassert the constitutional role of Congress in authorizing the use of U.S. military force. Earlier this month, Spanberger joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to repeal the 2002 Iraq War Authorization AUMF.

Earlier this year, she co-led the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would help Congress reclaim its constitutional war powers by ending the 1957, 1991, and 2002 AUMFs — formally repealing the congressional authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars, as well as the Cold War-era authorization of force in the Middle East.

In July 2019, the U.S. House voted to pass a joint resolution Spanberger led to block the sale of certain offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia in hostilities that were not authorized by Congress. And in April 2019, she joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House in passing a resolution that would remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen.

In July 2019, Spanberger cosponsored and helped pass a bipartisan amendment to prohibit the unauthorized use of military force against Iran. Spanberger also voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2002 AUMF, and in January 2020, she voted in support of a House War Powers Resolution related to Iran and called for Congress to address outdated AUMFs.

Click here to read a January 2020 op-ed Spanberger co-authored in the Washington Post alongside Republicans, Democrats, and an Independent calling for Congress to reclaim its war-making authorities.

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