11 Republicans Vote to Repeal 2002 AUMF
(January 30, 2020) —On Thursday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a pair of amendments aimed at curtailing President Trump’s war-making ability, particularly as it relates to attacking Iran. The amendments were added to the WW2 Merchant Mariner Gold Medal Act.
The first amendment, passed 228-175, noted that no military action against Iran could take place without prior Congressional authorization. Four Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the measure, 21 abstained. Though this is legally speaking always the case, recent presidents have claimed the ability to start unilateral wars when Congress doesn’t explicitly preclude them.
The second amendment, passed 236-166, repeals the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq (AUMF). 11 Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the measure, 22 Republicans did not vote. This AUMF was meant to allow the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Some have argued the AUMF also allows attacks in Syria and Iran, despite not specifically saying that, because they are close to Iraq.
The stronger Republican support for repealing the AUMF shows that party’s unity in pro-war legislation is starting to crack a bit. The AUMF vote was likely less controversial because President Trump suggested on Twitter that he didn’t object, and invited Representatives to “vote your heart.” He did, however, rail against the other vote.
The future of the legislation was uncertain in the Republican-led Senate, where an effort to pass an Iran-related war powers resolution has been stalled during Trump’s impeachment trial.
Here Are the Lawmakers Who Defected on Iran Legislation
(January 30, 2020) — A handful of House lawmakers crossed party lines Thursday on legislation designed to rein in President Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran.
The two measures came to the floor less than a month after Trump authorized an airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a move largely lauded by Republicans but criticized by Democrats who questioned the constitutionality of the action.
Four Republicans — Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Trey Hollingsworth (Ind.) — crossed the aisle to support the bill authored by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) that would block funding for military force in Iran without congressional approval.
The measure passed in a 228-175 vote, with GOP proponents of the measure arguing Congress needs to reclaim its constitutional powers.
“Under Article II of the Constitution, the President ALWAYS has the legal authority and moral obligation to respond to attacks and imminent threats. Khanna’s bill worked to make that clear by referencing the War Powers Resolution,” Davidson told The Hill.
Hollingsworth focused on the funding aspect.
“Funding our military operations is an essential Constitutional duty reserved only for Congress,” he said in a statement. “Our Commander in Chief should be able to take isolated and decisive action to keep Americans and service members safe, as President Trump has, but only Congress can declare and fund a war.”
A spokeswoman for Massie added that the Kentucky Republican “supports President Trump, and his vote today was not about the president.”
“Our Founding Fathers believed that Congress—not the President—should possess this power,” the spokeswoman stated. “Congressman Massie opposes any military action against Iran without a congressional declaration of war.”
Meanwhile, three Democratic lawmakers — Reps. Conor Lamb (Pa.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.) — voted against Khanna’s measure.
The lawmakers’ offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The House passed a second Iran-related measure, one that would repealthe 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), garnered support from 11 Republicans: Gaetz, Davidson and Massie, as well as Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Alex Mooney (W.Va.), Jamie Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Chip Roy (Texas), David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Fred Upton (Mich.).
GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure argued the AUMF is outdated and needs to be overhauled.
“It’s past time to start practicing some AUMF hygiene by taking outdated authorizations off the books,” Gallagher said in a statement. “The 2002 AUMF is no longer relevant and its repeal should have no material impact on ongoing operations in the Middle East.”
“But let me clear: the conversation shouldn’t end today. We in Congress should continue to debate other existing AUMFs and the War Powers Resolution more broadly in order to reclaim this institution’s most important constitutional authority,” he added.
Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, argued the US needs to take steps to end its involvement in “forever wars.”
“I come to vote my heart. Instead of sending our soldiers to blood-stained sands of the Middle East, let’s care for veterans here at home,” he said on the floor. “Instead of ill-fated adventurism, let’s put America first. The best time to vote against the Iraq War was 2002. The second best is today.”
A number of Republicans took issue with Democrats using an unrelated billto pass the measures, preventing the GOP from having the opportunity to attempt to alter the bill at the eleventh hour on the floor.
Just two Democrats voted against Lee’s measure: Lamb and Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.).
“I was not in Congress when the current AUMFs were passed. I have supported past measures repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, which also gave Congress time to replace them,” Cooper said in a statement. “This is the most complex region in the world and repealing a law without a replacement strategy is no way to keep our troops or America safe.”
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