The House Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment that would strip Donald Trump of his power to use military force in the war against terrorism. It would require that he receive case-by-case authorization to use military force from Congress, rather than the blanket authorization that has been in effect since 2001.
This amendment is unusual in that it was authored by a Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee of California, and agreed upon and ultimately passed by Republican colleagues on the committee, making it a bipartisan resolution.
Signed into law by former President George W. Bush a week after September 11, 2001, the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) Act gives broad authority to the president to initiate attacks internationally against terrorist actors.
The amendment, which will be attached to another bill, will cause the AUMF to expire 240 days after the bill to which it is attached passes.
— Jennifer Scholtes (@JAscholtes) June 29, 2017
The original act states that the president is “authorized to use all necessary and appropriate 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.”
While the law says that force can only be used against organizations involved in the 9/11 attacks, Barack Obama used the AUMF to justify attacks against ISIS as well.
The amendment would significantly change the powers of the president to use the military in many circumstances. If passed into law, Trump would lose his current broad authority to use military forces to attack terrorists around the world. Though he’d still be able to respond to imminent threats, he’d have to gain Congress’s approval for future endeavors, as laid out by the Constitution.
He’d also have to justify current operations that have utilized the AUMF, including the presence of troops in Afghanistan. Trump would still have 240 days—two-thirds of a year—to use the AUMF to justify any action related to use of the military to combat terrorist forces abroad.
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