Adios AUMF? Democrats press Biden for help in revoking old war powers

“Congress was missed in action, and President Joe Biden knows it,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Who leads the effort, in an interview.

Foreign minister candidate Antony Blinken told Senators Tuesday that Biden is “very strong” about the need to revise war permits.

“We tried this a few years ago, and it’s not easy to get a yes vote,” said Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser and assistant secretary of state during the Obama administration. “For some, the broth is too hot. The porridge is too cold for others. And can we reach consensus on what is exactly right? But I would be determined and determined to work on it. ”

The use of military force authorization granted after the September 11, 2001 attacks underpins the US war effort in Afghanistan as well as other counter-terrorism operations around the world. The 2002 permit was passed before the US invasion of Iraq and was last used by the Trump administration to justify the January 2020 assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.

While both parties’ lawmakers have long stated that post 9/11 permits were way beyond their intentions, Congress and the executive could not agree on a replacement. So Biden’s collaboration will be the key to defeating the old war forces once and for all.

In an initial signal that the new president will be ready to help Congress curtail its military authority, Biden Presidential Campaign aides and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Helped get the language across the platform last summer of the Democratic Party in 2020, pledging to “work with Congress to revoke decades-old permits for the use of military force and replace them with a narrow and specific framework. “

Lee, who was on the editorial committee for the party platform, said Biden was picky about what was included and underscored his genuine support for the lifting of the war forces. “This one came in because he believed it,” she said. “I will definitely go forward to make sure we hold them accountable because you can’t fall behind on something so important.”

It’s no surprise Lee is leading the charge. The California Democrat was the only lawmaker to vote against the 2001 AUMF, a congress of resolutions passed three days after September 11th. Lee warned that it would serve as a legal shield against unrelated military aggression in the years to come. But she is no longer alone.

Increasingly, a bipartisan contingent of legislators, including several military veterans, is pushing the legislation to destroy or revise the old permits for violence.

“Common sense will tell you it’s wrong,” said Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and retired Air Force brigadier general who served as commander in Iraq, in an interview. “Bin Laden is at the bottom of the ocean. Saddam Hussein – his death – it was over a decade too.”

By and large, progressive Democrats like Lee are fighting in the same struggle as lawmakers like Bacon, trying to force presidents to seek approval for major military action and get Congress back into the habit of casting tough voices on the war like it did the constitution prescribes. Where they differ is in the details.

The agreement to replace the warring powers is simpler than the agreement of what the new agency would allow. Lee’s letter calls for the 2002 rule to be repealed and calls on Biden to work with lawmakers “to consider how to approach the 2001 AUMF”.

Not taking action has long been seen as the least political risk route, Bacon said.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of members – I’m not going to give names – a lot of them want war or they want us out, but they don’t want to vote on it,” said Bacon. “You don’t want to make a risky vote. And it’s not right. This is one of the most important things that Congress should decide. “

The Democrats have campaigned unsuccessfully for the repeal of both laws since taking over the house majority in 2019. The House Democrats twice included the 2001 repeal of the martial forces as an amendment to the Pentagon’s annual funding laws. The House also voted to reset the 2003 Iraq War authorization under its defense and political bills.

These limits were ultimately lifted in compromise legislation due to opposition from the Republican-led Senate and the Trump administration.

But during Trump’s tenure, which culminated in the assassination of Soleimani and a retaliatory missile attack by Iran on bases in Iraq housing US troops, the tensions of the president’s warring powers on Capitol Hill gained momentum amid heightened tensions in the Middle East Importance.

In response to the tensions, Congressional Democrats and some Republicans sought to prevent Trump from taking offensive military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. These efforts never became law.

But with Biden in the White House, proponents of the presidential war authority overhaul say the old forces may finally fall by the wayside. “I think there is a bigger window of opportunity right now,” said Bacon. “I can’t say I have the math behind it. It’s just my stomach.”

Natasha Bertrand and Bryan Bender contributed to this report.

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