Augusta Free Press: Spanberger leads bipartisan coalition introducing legislation to restore congressional war powers


Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., co-led a bipartisan coalition of her colleagues in introducing legislation to establish limits on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

For nearly two decades, the 2001 AUMF — which passed in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks — has been used by presidential administrations of both political parties as the legal justification for the deployment of millions of American servicemembers into new countries, each time without a debate or vote in Congress. Since the initial operations by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan, the 2001 AUMF has been used to authorize the use of military force in dozens of countries.

The Limit on the Expansion of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act would reassert Congress’ constitutional role in the declaration of war. This bipartisan legislation would provide new guardrails on the 2001 AUMF, limiting the authorization to countries where there are currently ongoing hostilities.

In the event a president must act to defend the United States in a country where we are not operating today, the executive branch could do so and would be required to follow the procedures laid out in the War Powers Resolution of 1973. However, the 2001 AUMF would not authorize new, long-term engagements. The President also retains other authorities to continue working with partners and allies to address terrorist threats to the United States.

“After decades of prolonged military conflicts overseas with little congressional input, Congress needs to reclaim its authority under the U.S. Constitution to debate future military engagement abroad. Our current process is broken, and this bipartisan bill builds the foundation for reaffirming the Article I powers of Congress,” said Spanberger. “Members of Congress — as the voices of those they represent — should expect to be held accountable for their votes to send U.S. servicemen and women off to war. This much-needed legislation would make sure the nearly 20-year-old AUMF does not continue to expand for the purposes of justifying deployments of U.S. servicemembers into new foreign countries.”

Spanberger continued, “This legislation — supported equally by Democrats and Republicans — lays the foundation for replacing the 2001 AUMF while also protecting our ability to combat terrorism threats around the world and keep American families safe. Our discussions about the future of authorizations for military force must acknowledge the range of threats that exist. We will be in a better position to engage in these conversations after we pause the expansion of the 2001 AUMF — thus reducing executive branch reliance on an outdated authorization — and acknowledge that our existing authorizations are in desperate need of reforms.”

Spanberger co-led the introduction of this bill alongside U.S. Representatives Anthony G. Brown (D-MD-04), Tom Cole (R-OK-04), and Don Bacon (R-NE-02). Click here to read the op-ed they penned in The Hill yesterday announcing the legislation’s introduction. The Limit on the Expansion of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Jared Golden (D-ME-02), Rob Woodall (R-GA-07), Jason Crow (D-CO-06), and Ted Yoho (R-FL-03).

Since 9/11, more than 2.6 million U.S. servicemembers have deployed in either Iraq or Afghanistan – more than 700,000 of those who deployed did so multiple times. Federal spending on post-9/11 military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries is estimated to exceed $6.4 trillion. In March 2019, the Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have cost each U.S. taxpayer more than $7,600

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