Press Statement: New War Authorization Bill Does More Harm Than Good

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April 16, 2018

Today, Senators Bob Corker (R-TN.), Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced new legislation that would formally authorize ongoing U.S. military involvement against Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban, along with giving the Pentagon new authority to operate against additional terrorist groups and in other countries. The resolution will also give the President almost unchecked authority to expand the conflict zones and targets of military groups without Congress having to say yes or no—further eroding Congress’s Constitutional requirement to declare war.

Mandy Smithberger, Director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight, issued the following statement about the legislation:

The American people are growing more and more frustrated with Congress failing to do its job. Ever since the initial authorization to send American soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2002, Congress has abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to declare war.

This failure of Congressional leadership to debate and vote on where U.S. soldiers are fighting, has allowed for Americans to be deployed in combat zones all across the Middle East and Africa, in places the American people had no clue we were in. This is unacceptable.

Such a broad authorization is particularly troubling given this administration's refusal to provide the public with basic information about our current operations, including troop levels and legal justifications for strikes.

It is well past due for the Congress to fully debate the issue of U.S. military involvement and evaluate whether our current operations are achieving our goals. However, we find the newly introduced military authorization bill to be deeply troubling. As currently written, the bill would only further erode Congress’s constitutional role of declaring war by codifying the ability of any president to conduct further endless wars.

I have no doubt that the framers of our Constitution didn’t expect American wars to last for over 17 years without Congress weighing in—or think our current leaders should think so either.

The Congress needs to vote on a war authorization that doesn’t cause yet more erosions to their Constitutional responsibility and will create a real debate in this country over whether we should still be conducting these wars.

The legislation is expected to be debated and voted on in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Senator Corker, over the next two weeks before coming to the Senate floor for a full vote.

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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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