The House Appropriations Committee surprised a lot of people late last month when they voted in favor of Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D – CA) amendment to the 2018 military spending bill, calling for the repeal of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) within eight months.
Rep. Lee is hopping mad today, however, having learned that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R – WI) unilaterally stripped the amendment from the final bill overnight, with no debate, no vote, and no reason given for the move. Lee said the move was “underhanded and undemocratic.”
Some House Republicans had argued that the Appropriations Committee didn’t have jurisdiction over the AUMF, and that the rules violation meant the vote “shouldn’t count.” That appeared to be a matter up for debate, however, as opposed to a unilateral move by Ryan to simply strip out the language.
The 2001 AUMF was penned following 9/11, and authorizes the use of military force against al-Qaeda, and other associated factions involved in 9/11. It has been broadly interpreted by presidents as authorization US war declarations against materially anybody in the Middle East, so long as the term “terrorism” can be remotely applied.
This has fueled a lot of bipartisan efforts to repeal the AUMF, with some wanting an end to the global US wars, and others just wanting to replace the outdated AUMF with a more relevant version that actually mentions wars the US is presently fighting in.
In the past, however, fear that the “new” AUMF would fail has prevented the leadership from even attempting a vote, and Ryan appears to be following the trend of avoiding the issue, in this case by letting the amendment pass then just taking an eraser to the bill when everyone’s back was turned.