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McGovern, Members of Congress Call For War Debate in Letter to Speaker Ryan

Thursday, February 11, 2016

 

Paul Ryan, photo courtesy of wikipedia

On Wednesday, U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, Walter Jones, Adam Schiff, Peter Welch as well as 20 other Members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Speaker Paul Ryan calling for a debate and vote on the year-plus, multi-billion dollar war in the Middle East.

"In November, a bipartisan group of 35 House lawmakers urged Speaker Ryan to bring an AUMF to the House floor for a debate and vote. We were pleased to hear Speaker Ryan include this as a priority for 2016. Today, I join with my colleagues in calling on him to deliver on that promise. Americans deserve a Congress that will honor its constitutional responsibility when it comes to war and authorizing military force. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve nothing less," said McGovern. 

The letter cites language included in the omnibus spending bill which finds "Congress has a constitutional duty to debate and determine whether or not to author the use of military force against ISIL." 

“Tomorrow will mark one year since President Obama sent Congress a draft AUMF. Over the last 365 days, it has sat on the Speaker’s desk while our nation has become increasingly more embroiled in yet another costly and endless war in the Middle East. The Constitution is clear: Congress has a responsibility to debate and vote on matters of war and peace. The American people deserve better than a Congress that abdicates this sacred responsibility," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

Read the Full Text of the Letter Below 

The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker

U.S. House of Representatives

H-232, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We write to follow up on our request that you bring before the House a formal authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh.

We commend your statements in December 2015 in support of updating an AUMF to reflect U.S. efforts against ISIL in Iraq and Syria and agree with your statement that “Congress is the one who declares war. This is Congress’ responsibility.” Further, we appreciate your recent efforts to explore support within your Caucus for a debate and a vote on an ISIL-AUMF.

While members may have differing views on the scope of a new authorization for the use of military force, we can all agree that Congress has a Constitutional duty to debate and declare war. Indeed, the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill included Sense of Congress language adopted on a bipartisan basis in the House Appropriations Committee stating that:

(A)  Congress finds that –

(1)   The United States has been engaged in military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for more than 8 months;

(2)   President Obama submitted an authorization for the use of military force against ISIL in February 2015; and

(3)   Under article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the authority to “declare war”.

(b) Therefore, Congress has a constitutional duty to debate and determine whether or not to authorize the use of military force against ISIL.

Congress cannot continue to abdicate its constitutional authority to authorize military action abroad. We stand ready to work with you to prioritize the consideration of an authorization for the use of military force against ISIL before the House as soon as possible.

 

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