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

Bipartisan Hearing on Repealing the 2001 AUMF

By Susan Nahvi

On February 27, 2018, the House Liberty Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-hosted an ad-hoc hearing on repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the need for Congress to have a full debate and vote on war.

The ad-hoc hearing brought together 13 members of Congress, 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats, to hear from experts on the issue of endless wars. Reps. Barbara Lee (D- CA) and Justin Amash (R- MI) co-chaired the hearing and were joined by Reps. Andy Biggs (R- AZ), Dave Brat (R- VA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D- NJ), Warren Davidson (R- OH), Lloyd Doggett (D- TX), Walter Jones (R- NC), Jim Jordan (R- OH), Thomas Massie (R- KY), Jim McGovern (D- MA ), Mark Sanford (R- SC), and Jan Schakowsky (D- IL). In other circumstances, these representatives would be considered strange allies, but during Tuesday’s hearing, they all sought to emphasize the same point: the 2001 AUMF must be repealed, and Congress must hold a debate and vote on war.

AUMF Hearing- Lee, Amash

Reps. Lee (D- CA) and Amash (R- MI) make their opening statements at a hearing on the 2001 AUMF. Emily Sajewski/ FCNL

Congress passed the 2001 AUMF three days after the attacks of September 11, precipitating the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan and now our ever-growing ‘War on Terror.’ In his opening statement, Rep. Amash stated that “Congress has sat idly by as three different presidents have used the 2001 AUMF to carry out seemingly endless wars and justify military actions no one could have imagined when Congress passed the AUMF in the days following the attacks.” The 2001 AUMF has been publicly cited 41 times across 18 different countries as the authorization for military operations.

Rep. Lee noted the timeliness of the hearing, stating that “just last week, the Trump administration claimed that it needs no legal authority from Congress to indefinitely keep American military forces in Syria and Iraq.” Since passing the 2001 AUMF almost 17 years ago, Congress has not had a full debate and vote on war. “We cannot afford to wait any longer while these wars expand,” Rep. Lee continued, “Congress has ignored our duties on these ongoing wars.”

The three expert witnesses for the hearing were Senior Fellow & Military Expert for Defense Priorities Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, International Legal Counsel for Human Rights First Rita Siemion, and Executive Director of Veterans for Peace Michael McPhearson.

AUMF Hearing- Audience

The audience listens as three expert witnesses give testimony in a hearing on repealing the 2001 AUMF. Susan Nahvi/ FCNL

Their testimonies emphasized the dangers of continuing to stretch the outdated 2001 AUMF. Doing so would both continue to erode Congress’s constitutionally-designated war authority and have a heavy human and moral cost. Rep. Jim Jordan posed the question, “In 17 years from now, is it likely we’re still in Afghanistan?” Lt. Col. Davis responded, “Without Congressional action, yes.”

Rep. Jones recognized the weighty consequences of Congress’s inaction, saying, “We owe it to the… youth of this country to debate before we send them to die for America.”

AUMF Hearing- Walter Jones

Rep. Jones (R- NC) makes his opening statement as Reps. Lee, Amash, Massie, and Jordan look on. Emily Sajewski/ FCNL

The whole discussion highlighted the importance of bipartisan action to repeal the 2001 AUMF. This is not an issue that will be fixed by one party; we need members from across the political spectrum to come together as these members did and take action to end America’s endless wars. These members recognize their moral and Constitutional duties to do so, and FCNL will continue to call on Congress to take action.

Susan Nahvi

  • Program Assistant, Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Susan Nahvi advocates on behalf of FCNL in the area of Human Rights and Civil Liberties. She concentrates on several issues, including the Muslim travel ban, Islamophobia, and Syrian refugees. She writes articles that appear on FCNL’s website, lobbies members of Congress, and supports the work of Legislative Representative Yasmine Taeb.