Require Congressional Approval for the Use of Military Force

On September 14, 2001, in the days following the largest ever terror attack on American soil, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), granting the President the authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the attacks of September 11th “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

Since 2001, the AUMF has been used as the legal basis for military action against a broad range of groups extending far beyond those implicated in the September 11th attacks. According to the Congressional Research Service, the 2001 AUMF has been used in at least 14 different countries to justify military intervention. For 18 years, the executive branch has used this overly broad and outdated authorization to wage unending war against terrorism with little or no appropriate congressional oversight.

As Trump has ratcheted up rhetoric against Iran, administration officials have cited the 2001 AUMF as the legal justification to strike Iranian territory without congressional approval. To end the President’s ability to use the 2001 AUMF, the House Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment to repeal the AUMF for inclusion in the 2020 Defense Appropriations bill. The amendment will sunset the 2001 AUMF 240 days after the appropriations bill is passed, giving Congress and the administration an eight-month deadline to debate the provision and develop measures to replace it. The committee's approval of the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), marks a significant step towards reinstating congressional oversight for military intervention and ending the executive branch's overly broad power to wage war.

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