House Narrowly Defeats Rep. Schiff Amendment Sunsetting 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force

Washington, DC – Today, an amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee which would have sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) one year after enactment, was narrowly defeated on the House Floor during consideration of the annual Defense Authorization bill. This amendment built on Schiff’s bipartisan legislation which would sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and calls on the Administration and Congress to work together to determine what new authority is necessary to protect the country after that time.  It was defeated by a vote of 191 to 233, after a debate on the House Floor.

Last year, a similar amendment by Schiff was considered as part of the FY 2014 Defense Appropriations bill – the first time since 2001 that the AUMF has been debated – and received 185 bipartisan votes, including 30 Republicans.

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.”

Schiff stated: “The post 9/11 AUMF no longer properly encompasses the scope of military action that we are taking in the ongoing fight against terrorism. While the AUMF was originally directed at a fairly narrow range of actors, it has been used to sanction targeted strikes against groups and militants with little relation to the individuals who planned, authorized, and perpetrated the attacks on September 11, 2001. 

“There is bipartisan support for bringing our actions into conformity with the law, and a broad recognition that Congress is abdicating its responsibility to define the nature of the conflict in which we are engaged. The time is now to sunset the AUMF, and it’s my hope that this vote will bring a sense of urgency about the issue in Congress and in the Administration.”

Since the AUMF passed, the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban and routing the core of Al Qaeda. 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 speech last year 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.”

Rep. Schiff’s amendment is below and can be found here:


(a) IN GENERAL.—The Authorization for Use of Military Force (50 U.S.C. 1541 note; Public Law 107–40) is hereby repealed.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—This section shall take effect on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act.