Chairman McGovern Calls on Congress to Reclaim its Constitutional Authority over Matters of War and Peace


**Video of his remarks is available here**

WASHINGTON, DC — On the House Floor today, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) called on Congress to reclaim its Constitutional authority over our nation’s foreign policy. His remarks came as the House opened debate on measures to repeal the 2002 Authorization of Use of Military Force and prohibit funding for military action against Iran that is not authorized by Congress. Both measures passed the House with strong, bipartisan votes when they were considered as amendments to the FY 2020 NDAA last year, before being stripped out in conference. Votes on these measures this week will once again send them to the Senate for consideration.


Excerpts from Chairman McGovern’s remarks are below, video of his full remarks is available here:


  • “M. Speaker, something has been happening over the last few decades: Power meant to be held in these halls, granted to us by the Constitution, intentionally given to us by our Founders has ended up instead in the hands of whoever sat in the Oval Office. It wasn’t stolen by any particular president - we gave it away. Congresses run by both parties surrendered it to Democratic and Republican administrations alike, year after year after year. Nowhere is this more pronounced than when it comes to matters of war and peace.”


  • “Make no mistake, the Constitution is clear on this: the president may be commander-in-chief, but only Congress has the power to declare war. It’s right there in Article 1 Section 8. But we abdicated that responsibility. We have been too content to stand on the sidelines and watch as wars were crafted and carried out by the White House, with virtually no input from the People’s House.”


  • “Our troops – the very people we represent – have received orders to deploy. Taxpayer dollars have been shoveled overseas. Policies have changed from one administration to the next. But too often, Congress remained silent - not because we were too engaged on other urgent matters, but because we feared the political risk of a vote.”


  • “Many of our colleagues, on a bipartisan basis, have tried to force debates and votes. I’ve joined many of my colleagues – from Adam Smith, Barbara Lee, and Ro Khanna to Tom Cole, Walter Jones, and Matt Gaetz. In fact, I’ve stood here more than two dozen times and pleaded for the chance to vote on many conflicts – like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Too often these simple calls for debate were ignored.”


  • “When our troops are ordered to engage, they do not do so casually. And once they are deployed, it is not easy for them to withdraw. We all know this. Wars are easy to start, but very hard to end. This is why how they begin is the most crucial decision. It cannot be left to one person.”


  • “Today, M. Speaker, the process of reclaiming that authority begins.”


  • “Repealing this AUMF isn’t just about ensuring that this president cannot use it as justification for asserting military force without proper Congressional authorization. This vote is about ensuring that no president can.”


  • “The situation with Iran remains volatile. And if tensions should escalate again and President Trump wants to use military force, he must come to Congress first. Period.”


  • “These measures passed overwhelmingly as bipartisan amendments to the House-passed NDAA bill last year. Unfortunately, both were stripped out in conference. It’s my hope that the House will again approve these measures and that the Senate will recognize the urgency of their passage.”


  • “M. Speaker, I’ve heard a lot of talk about what it means to support our troops. Let me say this: We respect their service when we give them an honest, thoughtful debate about their sacrifice. About possible deployments that impact not only them, but their families and loved ones.”


  • “Members of our military put their lives on the line for this country. The least we can do is have the guts to vote on their fate.”


  • “Let’s respect our troops. Let’s respect this institution. And let’s finally get back to respecting the Constitution, doing our jobs, and voting on issues of war and peace.”


Jan 28, 2020