After years of discussion, the House is set to vote Wednesday on the continued relevance of a war authorization the Obama administration relies on to legally justify the war against the Islamic State.
But the decision to include the amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in the roster of defense policy bill measures has lawmakers who have long angled for such a vote on edge. The amendment doesn’t require Congress to come up with a new, replacement war authorization to cover current conflicts.
Proposed by Rep. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., the measure would require the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, which Congress passed to allow operations against al-Qaida and its affiliates in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, within 90 days of the defense policy bill’s enactment.
Lee said she wanted “to force a debate on this war and repeal the 2001 blank check for endless war that got us into these perpetual wars,” she said on the floor last week. “Let us debate this war, its costs and its consequences.”
Many members of Congress have objected to the administration’s argument that ongoing combat operations against the Islamic State have solid legal footing under a pair of AUMFs from 2001 and 2002 — the latter passed by Congress to greenlight the war in Iraq.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said Tuesday night that he thought Lee had “a really good argument.” But the GOP majority on the committee governing floor action did not move to allow other measures with replacement war authorization because, as Sessions explained, writing a new war authorization should be done by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.