The House Appropriations Committee just passed an amendment that would strip President Donald Trump of his power to use military force in the war against terrorism.
Jennifer Scholtes of Politico tweeted out a copy of the amendment that states the AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force) that passed Congress during former President George W. Bush’s tenure would expire 240 days after the bill it is attached to would pass.
— Jennifer Scholtes (@JAscholtes) June 29, 2017
Signed into law by Bush just a week after September 11, 2001, the AUMF gives broad authority to the president to initiate attacks internationally against terrorist actors.
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.”
Though it says that force can only be used by organizations involved in the 9/11 attacks, former President 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, President Trump would lose broad authority to use military forces to attack terrorists around the world. Though he’d still be able to respond to imminent threats, legally he’d have to gain Congress’s approval for future endeavors related to defeating terrorism overseas, 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. The U.S. entered into combat operations against the Taliban in 2001, an action that was directly instituted after the original AUMF was implemented.
President Trump would still have two-thirds of a year to use the AUMF to justify any action related to use of the military to combat terrorist forces abroad.
The passage of the amendment is particularly peculiar as 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.