Today BringOurTroopsHome.US, a veterans advocacy organization composed of former soldiers of the Global War on Terror and their civilian allies, praised the renewed attention from Congress on the issue of war powers, while simultaneously noting that the effort does not go far enough in returning the United States to a constitutional foreign policy.
Last week, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) jointly introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in 1991 and 2002 regarding military operations in Iraq. “Congress has been operating on autopilot when it comes to our essential duties to authorize the use of military force,” Senator Young said. “The fact that authorities for both of these wars are still law today is illustrative of the bipartisan failure of Congress to perform its constitutionally-mandated oversight role.”
The resolution has already received co-sponsors from both parties, including Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE). The White House has announced it’s openness to AUMF reform, with the administration’s press secretary conveying the message that President Joe Biden wants to “ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars.”
This resolution, however, would do nothing to end our endless wars in the Middle East. It’s language makes clear that if passed it “would therefore not affect ongoing United States military operations.” Most of the resolution’s composition is meant as assurance that even with the repeal of the 1991 and 2002 AUMF, U.S. soldiers would remain stationed in Iraq, subject to active military combat against ISIS and potentially other actors. Neither does the resolution seek to repeal the 2001 AUMF, which more than any other legislation has acted as a carte blanche to the Executive branch’s warfighting overseas.
While acknowledging the potential albeit limited improvements of this resolution, our organization agrees with the judgment of Will Ruger, President Donald Trump’s former nominee to be US Ambassador to Afghanistan, that “a more narrow AUMF with a sunset is better than what we have now but there is a real risk we could get something worse.”
BringOurTroopsHome.US does not believe in compromising on the United States Constitution, this nation’s founding document and ultimate legal arbiter. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 makes clear that only Congress has the authority to make war on a foreign nation, and this can only be implemented with the passage of a traditional declaration of war. AUMFs, which strip the Legislative branch of authority and cede decision-making to the President, do not fulfill Congress’ duty to our Constitution or to our men and women in uniform.
"We call on Senators Kaine, Young, and other cosponsors to take the requisite step and work to repeal all AUMFs on the books, and replace them with a constitutionally prescribed declaration of war only when the United States is under imminent threat," said Dan McKnight, founder and Chairman of BringOurTroopsHome.US and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. "We thank these legislators for their interest in renewing the war powers debate on Capitol Hill, but we will proceed with the disposition of trust, but verify."
As negotiations between Congress and the White House move forward regarding this resolution, our organization will continue to advocate on behalf of the supermajority of veterans who want to bring our troops home from these illegal wars in the Middle East. We maintain that the best way to accomplish this, and restore constitutional war powers, is through the passage of “Defend the Guard” legislation on the state level, not superficial reform in the Beltway.
For more information, visit DefendTheGuard.US