By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, and Congressman Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, introduced bipartisan legislation that would place jurisdiction over war powers’ issues, including authorizations for the use of military force, under the Congressional Armed Services Committees. These matters are currently under the jurisdiction of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Under House Rule X, the House Armed Services Committee has jurisdiction over all areas of personnel, material and strategy necessary for the conduct of war, making it the best-equipped panel to handle this critical responsibility. Byrne and Gallego argue that in addition, because the Congressional Armed Services Committees pass legislation authorizing defense activities every year, this jurisdictional change would give Congress a better opportunity to review and revise war-related policies.
“I have long been concerned about the lack of adequate authorization for many of the current operations of the U.S. military. Congress needs to get our act together and pass a new AUMF that adequately meets the realities of today’s conflicts. The current inaction is unacceptable, and I think institutional reforms may be necessary to move the process forward. Our servicemen and women deserve an adequate AUMF that makes clear our support and authorization for the important work they do each and every day,” Congressman Byrne said.
“Sixteen long years have passed since the 2001 AUMF was enacted. Frankly, given the rapidly evolving threats America faces, that means Congress hasn’t been doing its job. We need to enact institutional reforms to enable the legislative branch to once again exert its constitutional power over matters of war and peace. Giving responsibility for authorizations for the use of military force to the committee with the most relevant experience and expertise simply makes sense,” Congressman Gallego said.
The U.S. Constitution gives the Congress the power: “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”
The Constitution says that: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”
Rather than a formal declaration of War; the Congress passed the AUMF giving the president of the United States at the time, George W Bush (R), wide discretion to follow the terrorists wherever he felt they were.
“The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any ‘associated forces.’”
The three American presidents since the AUMF have used it to wage a 16-year long war in Afghanistan, invade Iraq, fight Filipino terrorists, fight in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Niger, Syria, the tribal areas of Pakistan, etc. Osama Bin Laden went into hiding in Pakistan, until his death in 2011, and the wars just keep going on and on.
Byrne and Gallego’s bill would give the Armed Services Committee jurisdiction over overseeing the AUMF.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Prior to his service in the Congress, Byrne represented Alabama as the head of the Two Year College System, as State senator and as a member of the state school board. Byrne is an attorney.