U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bills to Repeal Outdated & Inactive War Authorizations, Prevent Future Abuses of Executive Power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, Now Head to U.S. House Floor for Consideration

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pass U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s two bipartisan bills to prevent abuses of presidential power and repeal outdated, inactive Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs).

Earlier this 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. Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed this legislation.

Additionally, Spanberger co-led the introduction — alongside U.S. Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI-03) — earlier this month of a bipartisan bill 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 This Cold War-era authorization — still on the books today — is more than 60 years old and provides outdated, blank-check authority to the Executive Branch that could be abused by future administrations seeking to expand operations in the Middle East. The Committee today also passed this legislation by voice vote.

“These AUMFs are outdated and unused — and this opinion is shared by Members of Congress across the political spectrum. Repealing these authorizations would ensure that they are not abused by the Executive Branch, and removing these authorities would not undermine any existing operations. Instead, it would show that Congress is serious about reclaiming our authority in decisions of war and peace,” said Spanberger. “We must reassert this constitutional authority — it’s fundamental to representing our constituents, especially the servicemembers in our communities. After the American people have witnessed decades of prolonged military conflicts overseas with little congressional input, I am encouraged that these critical pieces of legislation are gaining steam in Congress. I’d like to thank my fellow colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for taking their constitutional responsibility seriously.”

Following today’s vote, several veteran-focused and foreign policy organizations applauded the House Foreign Affairs Committee for moving Spanberger’s legislative efforts forward.

“Today’s vote is an important step toward reshaping America’s foreign policy to meet today’s challenges,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America. “Repealing these generations-old use of force authorizations is a necessary first step toward restoring Congress’s war powers authority and reining in the forever wars that have defined the last twenty years. We thank Representative Spanberger and Representative Meijer for their leadership on this important issue.”

“We applaud Rep. Meijer and Rep. Spanberger for their determined leadership to repeal outdated Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which have been twisted beyond their original intent and no longer serve America’s interests,” said Nate Anderson, Executive Director, Concerned Veterans for America. “We’ve made significant progress by committing to end an endless war in Afghanistan, but it is only a start. Now Congress must reclaim its constitutional powers, and clean repeals of outdated military authorizations are a clear next step. We hope both parties can unite in passing legislation that will rebalance constitutional war powers for the wellbeing of our nation and its citizens.”

“Repealing all outdated AUMFs is of utmost importance, as we continue our efforts to shift war-making powers back to Congress, where they belong. If troops are worth deploying, it is worthy of a fresh debate, and a vote, before a commitment,” Mary Kaszynski, Director of Government Relations, VoteVets. “What cannot be allowed to happen is that a president has a blank check to send troops all around the world, based on an authorization passed before many troops were even born. We’re proud to support these bills and urge the House to immediately pass them.”

“Both the 1957 and 1991 AUMFs are outdated authorizations irrelevant to any current national security challenge,” said Anthony Marcum, Resident Fellow, R Street Institute. “Their continued presence on the books can only lead to potential abuse. A bipartisan effort to scrutinize outdated authorizations is a welcome step and a return to Congress’s proper constitutional role.”

“As long as these authorizations remain on the books, the danger persists that the executive branch could inappropriately use them as legal justification to send American troops into harm’s way without seeking the current Congress’s approval,” said Dan Grazier, Military Fellow, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight. “Doing so would clearly violate the spirit of the Constitution’s war powers clause. The 1957 and 1991 authorizations have served their purpose and it is long past time to consign them to history. Representatives Spanberger, Gallagher, Golden, and Meijer should be commended for taking on this important work.”

Both of Spanberger’s bills are 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), and Colin Allred (D-TX-32).

During today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, the Committee also passed Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to formalize the U.S. State Department’s role in leading the development of clean and secure supply chains of critical minerals. The bill would help American companies improve their competitiveness and sustainability, while also enabling the international community to meet the growing demand for emerging energy technologies and the need to tackle the climate crisis. The Congresswoman introduced the bill alongside U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16).

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 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 ending the Congressional authorization 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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