Senators Introduce Resolution Saying Post-9/11 Authorization of Force Doesn’t Apply to War With Iran

January 9, 2020 Updated: January 9, 2020
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Senators introduced a bipartisan resolution on Jan. 8 saying the 2001 and 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) doesn’t apply to a war with Iran.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the resolution (pdf).

“The American people do not want another endless war in the Middle East—yet what we’ve seen in recent days is a president willing to make significant military decisions bringing us closer to war without consulting Congress or recognizing that our Constitution gives war making power to Congress, not the president,” Merkley said in a statement.

“It’s time for the Senate to send a clear message: The cost of sending our sons and daughters into danger is too great for any one president to make a singlehanded decision to send our nation into war.”

Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) arrives for a briefing with administration officials about the situation with Iran, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“It is time for Congress to stop using previous AUMFs as an excuse to continue abdicating its constitutional responsibility on war,” Paul added in a statement. “We can take a major step toward reasserting our voice by making it clear the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs do not authorize war with Iran.”

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey, (D-Mass.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) co-sponsored the resolution, along with Democratic presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The resolution was introduced shortly after Congress received classified briefings from top officials in the Trump administration.

The resolution states: “Neither the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) nor the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) may be interpreted as a statutory authorization for the use of military force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iraq Airport Attack
A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early on Jan. 2, 2020. (Iraqi Prime Minister’s Press Office via AP)

Administration officials have said the authorization for the use of military force passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks provides legal authorization for an airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was hit near Baghdad International Airport last week.

“The president exercised America’s clear and inherent right of self-defense to counter this threat. It was a fully authorized action under the 2002 AUMF and was consistent with his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief to defend our nation and our forces against attacks like those that Soleimani has directed in the past and was plotting now,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said after the strike.

The resolution is one of several introduced in Congress in attempts to halt military action against Iran. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a war powers resolution last week meant to curb Trump’s authority, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that a similar resolution would be introduced in the House and voted on the next day.

The war powers resolution was meant “to keep the American people safe” and would “limit the president’s military actions regarding Iran,” she said.

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