1. Letter
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

106 Members of Congress Call on Speaker Ryan to Hold a Debate and Vote on Use of Military Force in Syria

By Yasmine Taeb, February 27, 2018


On February 27, more than 100 members of Congress, including 96 Democrats and 10 Republicans, joined a bipartisan letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, calling on him to hold a debate and vote on the use of military force in Syria. This bipartisan letter was led by Reps. Barbara Lee, Tom Cole, James McGovern, and Walter Jones. The letter was released in conjunction with a bipartisan ad-hoc hearing on the 2001 AUMF taking place on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 hosted by the House Liberty Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Yasmine Taeb, FCNL’s Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, made the following statement:

“It is long past time for Congress to have a full debate and vote on war, and we thank these members of Congress for adding their voices to this critical issue. It has been more than sixteen years since the passage of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, and since then, three administrations have used this resolution to wage endless war.

“Congress has abdicated its constitutional duty to decide where and when the United States goes to war. This cannot be allowed to continue, and these representatives recognize the duty and responsibility they have to the American people and the need for Congress to assert its proper role and oversight responsibilities in determining when and where the U.S. goes to war.”

A copy of the letter is provided below.

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We write to ask that the House of Representatives immediately begin a serious debate and vote on the use of military force (AUMF) regarding the ongoing deployment of U.S. forces in Syria and express that the President must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action in the region. We believe that Congress must live up to our Constitutional duty to debate and vote on our ongoing military operations without delay.

On January 17, 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson voiced his intention to commit U.S. troops to an indefinite military presence in Syria, with the goals of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, expelling Iran from the region, and coordinating a peace settlement that excludes President Bashar al-Assad. Furthermore, Secretary Tillerson’s policies may require an expansion of U.S. military in the region for an extended engagement in the Middle East

It is past time for the House to debate and vote on a new AUMF that defines the purpose, geography, combat and tactical scope, and the fight against ISIS in Syria and the surrounding region. The debate should also allow members the opportunity to debate and vote on the long-term costs and consequences of and alternatives to military action. We believe the President must present a strategy and seek the approval of Congress before any additional military action is taken against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, other nations’ military forces, or other non-State actors. If the President will not send an AUMF we ask that you bring forward an AUMF for consideration for a debate and vote.

For far too long, Congress has ignored these ongoing wars. Congress cannot continue to remain silent and abdicate its Constitutional responsibilities. We owe it to our brave service members and the American people to act.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee (D- CA)

Tom Cole (R- OK)

James P. McGovern (D- MA)

Walter B. Jones (R- NC)

Adam B. Schiff (D- CA)

Al Green (D- TX)

Alan Lowenthal (D- CA)

Alcee L. Hastings (D- FL)

Alma Adams (D-NC)

Anna G. Eshoo (D- CA)

Anthony Brown (D- MD)

Barbara Lee (D- CA)

Beto O’Rourke (D- TX)

Betty McCollum (D- MN)

Bill Foster (D- IL)

Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D- NJ)

Bobby L. Rush (D- IL)

Bonnie Watson Coleman (D- NJ)

Brian Higgins (D- NY)

C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D- MD)

Carol Shea-Porter (D- NH)

Cedric Richmond (D- LA)

Chellie Pingree (D- ME)

Colleen Hanabusa (D- HI)

Dan Kildee (D- MI)

Dana Rohrbacher (R- CA)

Danny K. Davis (D- IL)

David N. Cicilline (D- RI)

Denny Heck (D- WA)

Derek Kilmer (D- WA)

Diana DeGette (D- CO)

Dina Titus (D- NV)

Don Beyer (D- VA)

Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D- NJ)

Doris Matsui (D- CA)

Dwight Evans (D- PA)

Earl Blumenauer (D- OR)

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D- TX)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- DC)

Emanuel Cleaver, II (D- MO)

Frank Pallone, Jr. (D- NJ)

Grace Meng (D- NY)

Henry C “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D- GA)

Jackie Speier (D- CA)

Jamie Raskin (D- MD)

Jan Schakowsky (D- IL)

Jared Huffman (D- CA)

Jared Polis (D- CO)

Jerrold Nadler (D- NY)

Jerry McNerney (D- CA)

John A. Yarmuth (D- KY)

John Garamendi (D- CA)

John Lewis (D- GA)

John Sarbanes (D- MD)

José E. Serrano (D- NY)

Joseph P. Kennedy III (D- MA)

Juan Vargas (D- CA)

Judy Chu (D- CA)

Julia Brownley (D- CA)

Justin Amash (R- MI)

Katherine Clark (D- MA)

Keith Ellison (D- MN)

Lloyd Doggett (D- TX)

Louise M. Slaughter (D- NY)

Marcy Kaptur (D- OH)

Marcia L. Fudge (D- OH)

Mark DeSaulnier (D- CA)

Mark Pocan (D- WI)

Mark Sanford (R- SC)

Mark Takano (D- CA)

Maxine Waters (D- CA)

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)

Mike Capuano (D- MA)

Mike Quigley (D- IL)

Nanette Diaz Barragán (D- CA)

Niki Tsongas (D- MA)

Nydia M. Velázquez (D- NY)

Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R- AZ)

Paul D. Tonko (D- NY)

Peter A. DeFazio (D- OR)

Peter J. Visclosky (D- IN)

Peter Welch (D- VT)

Pramila Jayapal (D- WA)

Raúl Grijalva (D- AZ)

Raul R. Labrador (R- ID)

Richard M. Nolan (D- MN)

Ro Khanna (D- CA)

Rob Woodall (R- GA)

Robin L. Kelly (D- IL)

Ron Kind (D- WI)

Rosa L. DeLauro (D- CT)

Ruben Gallego (D- AZ)

Ruben J. Kihuen (D- NV)

Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D- GA)

Sander Levin (D- MI)

Scott Perry (R- PA)

Seth Moulton (D- MA)

Sheila Jackson Lee (D- TX)

Steve Cohen (D- TN)

Suzanne Bonamici (D- OR)

Ted Lieu (D- CA)

Thomas Massie (R- KY)

Tim Walz (D- MN)

Tulsi Gabbard (D- HI)

Val B. Demings (D- FL)

Yvette D. Clarke (D- NY)

Zoe Lofgren (D- CA)

The full letter with signatures can be accessed here.

Yasmine Taeb

  • Legislative Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Yasmine directs FCNL’s work on a number of human rights and civil liberties issues, including lobbying for increased resettlement of refugees, more transparency and oversight of the U.S. lethal drones program, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, and for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, among other issues.