Chairman McGovern Opens Debate on Bill Repealing 2002 AUMF, Reclaiming Congressional Power Over Matters of War and Peace
Rule also provides for consideration of bill to hold corporations accountable, help investors make informed decisions, and build a more equitable economic recovery
WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) today opened debate on the rule for consideration of H.R. 256, a bill to repeal the 2002 Authorization of Use of Military Force against Iraq. This AUMF, passed by Congress nearly twenty years ago, no longer serves any legitimate operational purpose. In reclaiming its Article I authority, Congress is preventing future administrations from misusing this outdated AUMF to justify wars that Congress never authorized. The rule also opens debate on H.R. 1187, the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act.
Chairman McGovern’s remarks are below, video of his remarks is available here:
“This Congress is doing something extraordinary. Nearly twenty years after we passed a measure to address the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and ten years after the conflict in Iraq officially ended, we are reasserting our constitutional responsibility over matters of war and peace by finally repealing the 2002 Authorization of Use of Military Force.”
“This isn’t an arcane legislative maneuver or simply some rhetorical exercise. Because this AUMF has been used over and over again to expand the mission and range of targets of U.S. military operations in Iraq never imagined when it was passed. In fact, President Trump misused it as recently as last January to justify the strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.”
“The process we are starting here today with H.R. 256 provides a roadmap for Congress to get off the sidelines and to stop abdicating its constitutional responsibility to debate matters of war and peace. That’s what our Founders intended. They knew that decisions of such magnitude shouldn’t be made in a vacuum solely by a president. That’s why the Constitution makes the president Commander-in-Chief, but gives only Congress the power to declare war.”
“It’s no secret that for a long time there were Members on both sides of the aisle who preferred to skirt that responsibility. They left such consequential decisions up to whoever sat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Republican or Democrat. But each of us was elected and sent here to do more than just make the easy calls.”
“We were sent here to make tough decisions, especially when it involves sending our uniformed men and women – the people we represent – into harm’s way and shoveling billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars overseas.”
“A growing number of Members, both Democrat and Republican, have been working together to reclaim our Article I powers. There is now a bipartisan, bicameral consensus that we not only have to end endless wars – we have to reexamine the shrinking congressional authority and the expanding executive powers that get us into global conflicts in the first place – and like inertia, keep us there for decades.”
“The Rules Committee has been working with the Foreign Affairs Committee to do just that. Because everything has changed since Congress enacted the original War Powers Resolution over President Nixon’s veto more than 50 years ago. When we fight, how we fight, and why we fight – these are big issues that merit our most engaged attention and resolve. We have a responsibility to make sure that these laws and authorities work in the modern age.”
“I’m grateful that we also have a president in office today who supports re-evaluating executive war powers. I have to be honest, M. Speaker, I never thought I’d see the day. But President Biden spent decades in the Senate grappling with the limitations of the War Powers Resolution…and he has a record of looking for ways to change it. This opportunity is like lightning in a bottle.
“We have a coalition in Congress trying to get this done, and now the missing piece - a president in the Oval Office with the political will to take this on – is hopefully now falling into place. I encourage all my colleagues to join with us in seizing this moment.”
“President Johnson once said that it’s damn easy to get into a war, but it’s awfully hard to get out of one. We are here today because of the truth of that statement. And it should never be that Congress – and the people we represent – are sidelined on the life-or-death questions of when to go to war and when to come home.”