Members of Congress applauded after the House Appropriations Committee overwhelmingly approved Rep. Barbara Lee's amendment that would revoke the overbroad 2001 law giving the president authority to undertake war against al Qaeda and its affiliates unless a replacement provision is created. The bipartisan vote was a rebuke of President Trump's abuse of this authority to use military force in Syria and Yemen against groups not affiliated with al Qaeda without authorization from Congress. Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican who supported Rep. Lee's amendment, said, "It’s time for leadership to wake up, and the administration to wake up, and send over a recommended AUMF, mark it up and take it to the floor. I don’t know any other way to get their attention because we’ve been talking about it for years."
Unfortunately, House Speaker Paul Ryan called Barbara Lee's amendment a "mistake" and threatened to strip it from the bill.
Urge your Representative & Senators to support & protect Barbara Lee's amendment to sunset the 2001 AUMF by signing our petition at MoveOn.
JFP Welcomes Passage of Barbara Lee Amendment to Sunset 2001 AUMF
Late on Monday, June 26, the White House threatened military escalation against the Syrian government. US defense officials reached by BuzzFeed News said they were unaware the White House was planning to release its statement. Military officials were caught off guard by the White House statement, the New York Times reported.
Urge your representatives to assert Congress' war powers to challenge Trump's military escalations by signing our petition at MoveOn.
As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote at the Washington Post, "While Washington is fixated on President Trump’s tweets, antics, lies and Russiagate, the administration is ramping up a stealth escalation of our military involvement across the Middle East."
Congress has never authorized the use of military force against the Syrian government, just as it has never authorized U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, Congress, not the President, decides if the U.S. should use military force against the Syrian government, so long as the Syrian government has not attacked the United States. Attacking Syria without Congressional authorization is an impeachable offense.
Following Nixon's unauthorized escalations of the Vietnam War, the Congressional Framers of the War Powers Resolution knew that it was likely that future Presidents would try to use military force without Congressional authorization. That's why they put multiple mechanisms in the WPR to help future Congresses defend their war powers.
One of those mechanisms was the requirement that the President report in writing to Congress within 48 hours of using military force without a declaration of war, stating: "(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces; (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."
On April 7, Reps. Peter DeFazio [OR-], Mark Pocan [WI-2], Barbara Lee [CA-13], and James McGovern [MA-2] sent a letter to Trump reminding him that under the War Powers Resolution, he has 48 hours to report to Congress on his unauthorized strike.
Add your voice to those of DeFazio, Pocan, Lee and McGovern by signing our petition at MoveOn.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced a bipartisan bill to block additional U.S. forces from being sent into Syria. H.R. 1473 prohibits the Department of Defense from funding any attempt by the administration to expand our presence in Syria by putting U.S. combat boots on the ground. Under the bill, the Pentagon would be prohibited from using funds to send troops to Syria for ground combat operations, award a contract to a private security firm for ground activity or otherwise establish or maintain a presence of U.S. troops or a private security contractor in Syria. The bill would allow for exceptions to “protect, rescue or remove” U.S. personnel.
Urge your Rep. to co-sponsor H.R. 1473 by signing our petition at MoveOn.
“I strongly object to the White House’s decision to unilaterally place U.S. boots on the ground in Syria," Rep. Lee said. "The Constitution is clear: Congress must debate, vote and authorize the use of military force in matters of war and peace." Twenty Members of the House have co-sponsored the bill.
Urge your Rep. to co-sponsor H.R. 1473 by signing and sharing our petition.
On the TPP and settlement expansion in the West Bank, we mostly lost the first round of the fight over the Democratic Platform. The Platform Drafting Committee rejected an amendment opposed to the TPP and rejected an amendment opposed to settlement expansion in the West Bank.
There were five Sanders appointees on the fifteen-member drafting committee. There were also three other "progressive" House Democrats on the committee: Barbara Lee, Luis Gutierrez, and Elijah Cummings. Five plus three is eight; eight is a majority of fifteen. If these three "progressive" House Democrats had voted the right way, we would have won amendments against the TPP and settlements.
Call Luis Gutierrez at 202-225-8203, Elijah Cummings at 202-225-4741, or Barbara Lee at 202-225-2661. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:
"I am very disappointed by the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee's rejection of amendments against the TPP and against the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I demand that you publicly explain your votes."
Please ask the office for a written response.
When you've made your call, please report it below.
Judging from press reports, when Congress returns from its August recess in early September, the United States military will have been bombing "Islamic State" fighters in Iraq for a month, with a broader set of missions than originally advertised, and with plans to continue bombing for months.
The greatest struggle facing the anti-war movement in the United States is the struggle to get people who come to anti-war demonstrations after a war starts to engage politically to prevent the same wars in the future. In the case of U.S. policy towards Iran, we created a political movement to support diplomacy with Iran to prevent war in the future. But in the case of Gaza, there is no political movement in the United States to support diplomacy to prevent war in the future.
Some people claim that there’s nothing we can do to stop the President from launching a new war in Iraq, if that’s what he decides to do. But last August, when the President had decided to bomb Syria, we proved that wasn’t true. When 192 Members of the House said he had to come to Congress for authorization before using military force, the President decided to go to Congress. When he couldn’t get authorization for force, he chose diplomacy instead.
We have the same opportunity now. If we can get enough Members of Congress to sign the Rigell-Lee letter saying that the President has to come to Congress before using force, we can stop the rush to war.
Call your Representative now at 202-225-3121. When you speak to a staffer, say:
I urge Rep. ____ to sign the Rigell-Lee letter, saying the President must come to Congress for authorization before using force in Iraq. I would like to know whether Rep. ____ plans to sign the Rigell-Lee letter.
When you’ve made your call, you can report it using our easy response form below.
In mid-November, the Christian Science Monitor reports, a loya jirga in Afghanistan - a national meeting of tribal leaders and other notable Afghans - will vote on whether to meet the Obama administration's terms for keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014.
If you care about democracy in Afghanistan, you should be happy for the Afghans. Whether or not - and if so, under what conditions - they want to have thousands of U.S. troops in their country after 2014 is obviously a very big deal for them. Why shouldn't they have full deliberation and debate?
But if you also care about democracy in the United States, you should be a bit troubled. Because Congress has never approved keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.
The closest Congress has come to considering this question is in language passed by the House in June, 2013. Offered by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, this language - which passed the House 305-121, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting yes- said [my emphasis]: