Senators Murphy, Lee, and Sanders have introduced legislation to address Congressional and Presidential war powers. (See bill text, press release, one pager, video of press conference, op-ed, and Politico article).
In recent months, we’ve seen efforts to repeal some but not other AUMFs (Authorizations for the Use of Military Force), plus talk of creating a new AUMF (why?!). And for years we’ve watched people like Senator Kaine talk about reclaiming Congressional war powers while pushing legislation to eviscerate them. So, I thought I had reason to worry.
I heard about this new legislation before it appeared from people concerned that it was not going to address the power to impose illegal and deadly sanctions on nations around the world. I thought that was a serious concern. And it turns out to have been well justified, as the bill does not say one word about sanctions. But I was wary of focusing on promoting that improvement to a bill that nobody would show me or tell me what else was in it. Not much point in perfecting a catastrophically bad bill, you know?
Now, to be clear, this bill is not the arrival of peace, sanity, and disarmament. It does not recognize that wars are illegal under the UN Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and various other treaties, and prosecutable by the International Criminal Court. It treats perfectly seriously the question of which branch of government should authorize the worst crime there is, in a manner that would never be applied to, say, Congressional Rape Powers or Congressional Child Abuse Powers.