The U.S. Senate on Wednesday killed an effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to sunset the war authorizations that have been used for 16 years to justify ongoing military actions in regions around the globe.
Despite the failure, Win Without War director Stephen Miles argues that the vote “shows that momentum is building to cancel the president’s blank check for endless war,” adding that “it’s clear that our representatives in Congress are beginning to recognize that after nearly two decades, the conflicts we are currently fighting have a tenuous connection to the laws that are used to authorize them.”
“If Congress can’t even be bothered to vote on whether we should be in war, then we have no business sending young men and women to die fighting in it,” Miles concluded.
In essence, as observers noted, the chamber gave the OK to continuing “endless war.”
Sen. Paul’s attempt was an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have repealed the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force after six months and allow for Congress debate another potential war authorization.
The procedural vote was 61-36, with the “yea” votes in support of tabling (rejecting) the amendment.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Paul said, “I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared, and unconstitutional war. What we have today is basically unlimited war — war anywhere, anytime, any place on the globe.”
“No one with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes these authorizations allow current wars we fight in seven countries,” he said.
In addition to Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Paul’s effort had the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who tweeted that “Congress owes our troops and their families a full debate to authorize the use of military force before we send them into harm’s way.”
Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-Calif.) — the sole member of Congress to vote against the AUMF passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack — saw her similar effort to repeal the 2001 AUMF killed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier this summer, and called the vote a must-follow issue. “Every member of Congress, regardless of party, has a constitutional obligation to debate and vote on war,” she tweeted.
With the vote to table Paul’s amendment, “Congress once again chose political convenience over our duty to the American people and service members,” she said in a press statement.
“While this outcome is disappointing,” she added, “we must and will keep fighting to get this blank check for war off the books. The Constitution — and the American people — deserve no less.”
To bring the AUMF to an end, “the public has got to speak out, organize, and mobilize,” Lee told MSNBC Wednesday.