Rules Committee Democrats Blast Speaker Ryan’s Removal of AUMF Repeal Amendment from Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, DC —Rules Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (NY-25), today blasted Speaker Ryan’s removal of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (CA-13) amendment sun-setting the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the appropriations bill to be considered by the House next week. This bipartisan amendment was adopted on a voice vote by the House Appropriations Committee. However, Speaker Ryan removed it from the bill behind closed doors without any debate, and without a vote of a single committee or the entire House, replacing it with a separate, much weaker amendment from Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04). The Cole amendment would only require a report on this issue and it is already included in a separate bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, which is already on track to becoming law.
“We vigorously oppose Speaker Ryan moving behind closed doors to take out Congresswoman Lee’s bipartisan amendment. It is scandalous that 16 years after the start of the war in Afghanistan we are still operating under an AUMF passed back in 2001. This effectively allows the president to declare war without Congress’ concurrence. It is time for Congress to fulfill its Constitutional duty and debate our role abroad. Speaker Ryan’s unilateral move isn’t just bad process, it is silencing a debate that is long overdue and one that all Americans, especially members of our Armed Forces, expect and deserve,” said Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (NY-25).
“America has been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years. It’s the longest war in U.S. history. Barbara Lee’s amendment – unanimously adopted in the House Appropriations Committee – would ensure that Congress finally steps up to the plate and grapples with the serious challenges of this war. Instead of allowing the House to debate the merits of the Lee provision, Speaker Ryan stripped out the provision from the bill and substituted the Cole amendment that only calls for a report and hearings on the report. No real action. It is yet another act of political cowardice on the part of the Republican leadership when it comes to debating matters of war. It is an insult to the Members of this House, an insult to our uniformed men and women, an insult to our military families, and an insult to the American people,” said Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02).
“By stripping the AUMF amendment behind closed doors, Speaker Ryan has undermined Congress’ constitutional authority to determine when and how we commit our troops to conflicts far from home. It has been 15 years since there was a full debate on the use of military force, and we cannot be content allowing endless military deployments without informed Congressional approval. Republicans need to step up and stop passing the buck on these critically important decisions,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20).
“I am shocked and disappointed that Speaker Ryan chose to remove Rep. Lee’s amendment after Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that it is necessary and prudent for national security. Threats against the U.S. have evolved over the past 15 years when the last Authorization for Use of Military Force was drafted. We need to ensure Congress is exercising its constitutional authority – and responsibility – by providing the military with the relevant authorities to combat terrorism in today’s world,” said Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02).