House Votes to Repeal Authorization for Use of Military Force

The House of Representatives voted today to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Presidents have used the AUMF to justify never-ending wars that lack Congressional approval.

This is the first time in nearly 18 years that a chamber of Congress has repealed this law. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), was included in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 2968). Designed to take effect eight months after being signed, Congress would need to pass a new AUMF or the administration would need to remove military personnel from current conflicts during that time.

“Engaging in endless wars is not a solution for global problems,” said FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall. “As Quakers, we see the Light of God in every person. Repealing the 2001 AUMF marks a significant milestone in reining in war and global militarism. Human security, effective development, diplomacy, and a dedication to the rule of law should be the foundations of our international relations.”

Since 2001, the U.S. has conducted counterterrorism operations in 80 countries, including combat in 14. During that time, some 7,000 American service members were killed. Rep. Lee’s amendment helps end nearly 18 years of never-ending wars.

“With the Administration threatening to use the 2001 AUMF to justify a new war with Iran, today’s vote is a critical first step for Congress in clawing back their constitutional power to decide when, where, and if the U.S. goes to war,” said Heather Brandon-Smith, FCNL’s militarism and human rights legislative director. “If the last 18 years have taught us anything, it’s that wars are often too easy to start but extremely difficult to end.”

Currently, the 2001 AUMF has no geographic restrictions and no time limits. It does not clearly name the groups who may be targeted. Each administration since 2001 has cited the AUMF as the legal basis for an increasing number of military operations abroad without congressional approval.

FCNL Advocacy Teams -- involving more than 1,500 people nationwide -- have been focused since early this year on building support for Rep. Lee’s amendment. Their work continues as momentum grows for its full Congressional passage.

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