Rep. Ken Buck's Statement on Voting to Repeal the 2002 Iraq War Powers Resolution
Today, I voted to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the legislation that licensed much of the United States’ military engagement in the Middle East for the last 20 years. This blank check resolution authorized the executive branch to conduct broad military operations, and Congress has disregarded its Constitutional oversight powers. Congress' action to repeal the outdated 2002 AUMF today brings Congress one important step closer to restoring its check on Executive fiat.
United States military forces are present in the Middle East pursuant to an Authorization for Use of Military Force that was enacted 20 years ago. At the time, Congress did not conceive that this authorization would sanction an endless military commitment.
The United States is not the world’s policeman, and it is incredibly unwise to promote this level of involvement in international disputes. However, Democrat and Republican presidents alike have abused the powers of war granted under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, and Congress must act to reign back the executive branch’s war authorities. Further, continuing to dump trillions of dollars into these endless wars is irresponsible, runs contrary to American economic and security interests, and unnecessarily places American lives in jeopardy.
It is clear that the basis for the AUMFs currently in force have long expired, and Congress must fulfill our Constitutional responsibility and ensure we are conducting proper oversight of the executive branch’s military operations.
Despite broad agreement in Congress on this matter, efforts to reclaim Congress’ Article I powers have been repeatedly extinguished. On July 12, 2019, Congress passed an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to repeal the 2002 AUMF, but this was removed from the bill before it was enacted into law. On November 14, 2018, a resolution was introduced to assert Congress’ War Powers authority over the executive branch related to military operations in Yemen, but the House Rules Committee stripped the effort of its procedural privilege in a rule on an unrelated bill. In a similar move shortly thereafter, the House Rules Committee made the expansive decision to suspend the privileges of the War Powers resolutions for the remainder of the 115th Congress. It is long past time for Congress to face this issue head-on.
To this end, Congress must carefully examine the military needs on the ground in the Middle East, including by holding hearings and coordinating with the administration to determine what military authorities are necessary to mitigate threats and address the current security concerns in the region.
However, I am concerned that a wholesale repeal of military authorities risks leaving our military and national security vulnerable. Legitimate threats to the United States remain active in the Middle East. Most notably, Iran poses a credible and significant threat to the United States. Congress must address these state and non-state terrorist threats in a responsible way, and we must be prepared to prevent and respond to these threats.
The existing AUMFs were never intended to address these current threats and are plainly outdated, which is why Congress must re-assess these authorities.