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

FCNL Welcomes Bill to Repeal the 2001 AUMF

By Emmet Hollingshead, February 14, 2019

Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) introduced a bill to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (H.R. 1274). A bipartisan group of 46 representatives joined Rep. Lee to cosponsor the bill.

Congress passed the 2001 AUMF three days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 precipitating the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the ever-growing “war on terror.” Since then, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify military interventions, indefinite detention, and lethal drone attacks all around the world. Repealing this law would be a welcome step toward reining in U.S. wars and militarism abroad.

It is long past time for Congress to have a thorough debate on U.S. wars. A 17-year old, nearly limitless authorization for war is not a reasonable foundation for our national security policy.

Three administrations have cited the 2001 AUMF as legal justification for rampant U.S. military operations around the globe. In the past two years, the United States has conducted counterterrorism operations in 80 countries, including combat operations in 14. Rep. Lee’s bill would sunset the outdated and overly broad 2001 AUMF after eight months and would bring to an end more than 17 years of expanding warfare.

The 2001 AUMF has no geographic restrictions, no time limit, no constraints on which kinds of force may be used, and does not clearly name the groups with whom we are at war. The executive branch has interpreted the AUMF to provide a blank check for presidents to conduct war around the globe without additional congressional approval and with minimal congressional oversight.

While it is the president’s duty to act as commander during times of war, it is Congress’s duty to determine when we should go to war and to conduct appropriate oversight of U.S. wars. By neglecting this responsibility, Congress has weakened the checks and balances built into our Constitution and abdicated their war authority. It has become complicit in ever expanding “endless war,” which has cost more than $5.6 trillion and resulted in the deaths of a quarter of a million civilians.

Rep. Lee was the sole vote against the 2001 AUMF when it originally passed, and has previously introduced similar legislation to repeal the authorization. In 2017, her amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 passed the House Appropriations Committee. However, House leadership blocked the measure from advancing to a vote on the floor.

It is long past time for Congress to have a thorough debate on U.S. wars. A 17-year old, nearly limitless authorization for war is not a reasonable foundation for our national security policy. We look forward to weighing in on this debate, and we urge all members of Congress to cosponsor and vote in support of Congresswoman Lee’s bill.


*Justin Amash (R-MI-3); Earl Blumenauer(D-OR-3); Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1); David Cicilline (D-RI-1); Katherine Clark (D-MA-5); Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9); Steve Cohen (D-TN-9); Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4); Diana DeGette (D-CO-1); Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11); Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18); Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3); Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20); Jim Himes (D-CT-4); Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-1); Jared Huffman (D-CA-2); Ro Khanna (D-CA-17); John Lewis (D-GA-5); Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47); *Thomas Massie (R-KY-4); Betty McCollum (D-MN-4); Jim McGovern (D-MA-2); Gwen Moore (D-WI-4); Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14); Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5); Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6); Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1); Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7); Mark Pocan (D-WI-2); Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8); Max Rose (D-NY-11); Bobby Rush (D-IL-1); C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2); John Sarbanes (D-MD-3); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9); Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5); Jose Serrano (D-NY-15); Mark Takano (D-CA-41); Mike Thompson (D-CA-5); Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13); Paul Tonko (D-NY-20); Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-7); Maxine Waters (D-CA-43); Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12); Peter Welch (D-VT-1)

Emmet Hollingshead

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Emmet served as FCNL’s Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights for 2018-2019. He lobbied for more peaceful, ethical, and holistic U.S. foreign policy. Our international stance should not be based on military might, but on compassionate and inclusive leadership focused on mutual interests. To that end, Emmet worked with members of Congress and their staff, fellow peace activists, and grassroots supporters to develop better ways for the U.S. to engage with the world.