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Rep. Schiff Offers Amendment Sunsetting Authorization for Use of Military Force– "AUMF Never Intended to Authorize a War Without End"

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, offered an amendment to the annual Defense appropriations which would prohibit the use of funds pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) on December 31, 2014 – effectively sunsetting the law.  By the end of 2014, the last American combat troops will rotate out of Afghanistan and the responsibility for that nation’s security will have passed to the Afghan people. This amendment closely mirrors Schiff’s bipartisan legislation which would sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) by the end of 2014, and calls on the Administration and Congress to work together to determine what new authority, if any, is necessary to protect the country after that time.  

Following the September 11 attacks, the Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force to provide the President with authorization to use “force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

On the House Floor today, Schiff stated, “New Year's Day 2015 should not only bring a new relationship between the United States and Afghanistan.  It should also mark the end of the conflict that was begun in our skies on that September morning and which was formalized days later when Congress passed the AUMF.  The 2001 AUMF was never intended to authorize a war without end, and it now poorly defines those who pose a threat to our country.  That authority, and the funding that goes along with it should expire concurrent with the end of our combat role in Afghanistan.”

Since the AUMF passed, the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban and routing the core of Al Qaeda. The authorization has also been used to support targeted strikes against Al Qaeda's operatives in other countries, and used as a basis to detain terrorists at the facility at Guantanamo Bay.  The country now faces threats from individuals, entities and organizations that may affiliate with al Qaeda, or share its ideology and its determination to attack Americans, but which may not have even been in existence on September 11, 2001.  

In his recent speech at the National Defense University, President Obama specifically called on Congress to work with him.  “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” Obama said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”

Schiff added in his speech today, “The Constitution invests in Congress the power to declare war and the responsibility for appropriating funds to pay for it.  It is our most awesome responsibility and is central to our military efforts overseas.  We owe it to the men and women we send into combat to properly define and authorize their mission, and my amendment will effectively give Congress the next 16 months to do so.”

Schiff’s bipartisan legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), can be found here.

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