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A bipartisan group of senators led by Senators Bob Corker (TN) and Tim Kaine (VA) introduced a bill in mid-April that would expand presidential war powers and allow the president to add new targeted groups and new geographic areas of operations. FCNL opposes the Authorization for Use of Military Force 2018 (AUMF 2018) which sets our country further down the path of endless and global war.

The cosponsors of the bill, Senators Corker, Kaine, Flake (AZ), Coons (DE), Young (IN), and Nelson (FL), are pressing for a vote on this legislation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late April. The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war. This legislation turns that power on its head and says Congress only has the power to stop the expansion of war with a two-thirds majority vote of both chambers. This is not progress.

Our FCNL community will be urging all senators to oppose this dangerous expansion of war powers. Among our concerns are the following:

The AUMF 2018 would allow the president to use force against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda in Syria, Al Nusrah Front, the Haqqani Network, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb. The legislation also grants the president power to add any associated forces it deems fit. Congress would only be able to weigh in on added groups and regions after the administration has already commenced fighting them.

The AUMF 2018 has no firm sunset or end date – this is a continuation of our current permanent or endless war. The AUMF 2018 leaves the authorization in place permanently in the absence of congressional action. Instead of constraining the executive branch, this new sweeping AUMF explicitly authorizes all current military operations under the 2001 AUMF and paves the way for an ever-expanding war. Since its passage in 2001, three administrations have collectively cited the 2001 AUMF as the legal justification for 41 military actions across 18 different countries- and these are only the uses that exist in the public record. While the 2018 AUMF would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, it perpetuates the same deep flaws found in the originals.

As a matter of faith, FCNL opposes all war, and this authorization is particularly dangerous. Not only would it legitimize the U.S.’s current and expansive use of violence across the globe, but it would also codify the administration’s power to expand that war. Instead of using this opportunity to rein in the executive branch, Congress is set to hand over its constitutionally-designated war powers. FCNL urges senators to oppose this bill. Do not let endless war become a part of this Congress’ legacy.

See what principles FCNL believes must be in any new AUMF.

Jim Cason

Jim Cason

Former Associate General Secretary for Policy and Advocacy
Jim Cason served the FCNL community for seventeen years. As Associate General Secretary for Policy and Advocacy, he was responsible for directing the full range of FCNL’s strategic advocacy work. In this capacity, he worked with program staff to develop long-term change strategies that accomplish our particular legislative goals.