Congress Again Demonstrates Cowardice When It Comes to Declaring War

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September 13, 2017

Today, the Senate voted to table an amendment that would require Congress to debate a new authorization for the use of force as part of this week’s effort to finalize the defense authorization bill for FY 18.

The amendment, offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), would sunset the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF). There has been bipartisan support for debating and voting on a new war authorization. In the House, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered similar language. Lee’s amendment had been included in the House’s defense spending bill, but was stripped out by the Rules Committee.

Below is a statement on today’s vote by Mandy Smithberger, director of the CDI Straus Military Reform Project at the Project On Government Oversight:

We applaud Senator Rand Paul for demanding a vote and those who voted for his amendment to be considered to begin debate over the authorization for military force but are very disappointed that it did not pass. Once again Congress is demonstrating its cowardice when it comes to its Constitutional responsibility to declare and be accountable for our wars.

Congress has been spending trillions of dollars and sacrificing countless American lives for what is appearing to be an endless war that is no longer confined to the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force, voted on almost 16 years ago this month.

Congress is truly broken if they think they can absolve themselves of responsibility for our war efforts. Real support for our troops would be Congress giving serious consideration to where and why we send our men and women into harm’s way.

Some who opposed the amendment thought this was the wrong vehicle. Congress cannot keep kicking this can down the road. We hope the Senate will take up legislation introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to revise the AUMF.

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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