The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed days after 9/11 has become a blank check for endless war. Yet, some in the Senate are proposing as a “solution” a new AUMF that gives the President even broader war making powers and reduces Congress to the role of rejecting new military conflicts after the fact.
Congress has long ceded its constitutional war powers, allowing both Republican and Democratic presidents to wage war against entities that did not even exist in 2001. As of 2016, the post-9/11 AUMF, designed to go after groups who ““planned, authorized, committed, or aided” those reprehensible terrorist attacks, had been used to justify 37 military operations in 14 countries. Both Obama and Trump have cited the AUMF as authority to target ISIS, even though ISIS did not exist at the time of 9/11 and thus could not possibly be said to have “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the attack.
While a bipartisan group of Congressional members have raised concerns about this, the leadership of both parties has been at best asleep at the switch, at worst actively aiding and abetting the executive branch.
A draft of a new AUMF has been introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Bob Corker (R-TN). While it would repeal the overused 2001 AUMF (as well as the 2003 AUMF against Iraq), it would also dramatically expand the President’s power to wage war at will.
The new AUMF would allow the President to initiate new military actions against new enemies in new locations without Congressional approval. Under this expansive proposal, Congress would be relegated to the role of merely rejecting them. As the President could veto any rejection of their military actions, this would essentially mean a veto proof majority would be required to stop a new use of force.