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Key Committee Votes to Debate New War Authorization

by Countable | 6.29.17

In a surprising turn of events, a key House committee approved a bipartisan amendment that'd force Congress to debate an authorization for the ongoing wars in the Middle East for the first time in more than a decade. The current authorization was enacted by Congress 16 years ago during the presidency of George W. Bush.

When the amendment was passed by the House Appropriations Committee – journalists in the room report hearing audible gasps. While the amendment’s lead sponsor was surprised, she also says she’s put in the elbow grease over the years convincing her Republican colleagues to support the measure.

"You know I've been working for years with my colleagues on the other side to build to this day. We have a long way to go. And so I think that today was just another step in the process, but it was historic that we got consensus in the Appropriations Committee for it," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) told Countable after Thursday’s vote.

While Lee is an anti-war progressive, she’s successfully convinced many of her Republican colleagues to sign on to her effort. That’s in part because her legislation includes a 240-day window for this Congress to fully debate a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Lee emphasized that her legislation would allow the ongoing operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan — among other nations — to continue during that debate and added:

"You know I think the American people, especially now with this escalation in troops, they deserve Congress to not be missing in action and we've been missing in action. I mean it's not effective, you know, for 240 days. So once the president signs this we have a while to be able to come up with a new authorization. And the American people deserve better."

Giving Congress a 240-day window to debate a new AUMF is important to many lawmakers in both parties, because currently there are competing proposals floating around the Capitol as to whether Congress should limit or expand the president’s ability to wage war in the region. But supporters of the effort say they owe it to the nation’s troops to have the 115th Congress openly debate whether the U.S. should still be in these seemingly endless wars.

"You know amendments are a wonderful thing, and it does make a statement. But I'm talking about a three or four hour debate about war, and young men and women dying is worth four hours at least," Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) tells Countable. “Well I'm, I'm happy… and I hope that this does lead to more than just a ten minute debate on the amendment.”

Tell your reps whether you want to see Congress debate a new war authorization using the Take Action button.

— Matt Laslo

(Photo Credit: Dept. of Defense / Public Domain)


Written by Countable

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