Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s push for a vote on his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) appears to have been successful, and his office issued a press release confirming that such a vote will take place after all. Previously, there were doubts, as the Senate leadership sought to severely limit discussion of amendments and just push the NDAA through.
The amendment is short and simple. It would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as well as the 2002 AUMF against Iraq. The two authorizations would sunset in six months, giving Congress a window in which to debate a replacement authorization.
Limited debate on the amendment was held Tuesday evening, with expectations of further debate Wednesday morning. There is no formal time set for the vote, but it’s expected Wednesday in the late morning.
Paul has advocated the repeal of the AUMF because it has been used by recent presidents as a blanket justification for new wars. Despite the 2001 AUMF not having anything to do with them, it is presently used as the legal cover for seven US military operations worldwide. The hope is that it will attract support not just from antiwar senators, but also from senators who have wanted a new AUMF that is directly applicable to current wars, since the repeals would oblige the leadership to finally allow debate on such an effort.
At the same time, some ultra-hawks, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), oppose the effort, because an AUMF directly applicable to current wars would inevitably include specific limits on those wars. These hawks prefer to keep the wars effectively unauthorized to give the president limitless power to escalate. A new AUMF, informed by the abuses caused by the vagueness of the past ones, would doubtless be more limited, and make it difficult for presidents to unilaterally launch new wars.
Sen. Paul is already getting new support for the vote now that it’s going to happen. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who had just days prior publicly attacked the amendment as a “disservice” to the military, now says he supports it.
Those interested in contacting their senators to express support for the amendment can find contact information here. With the vote expected soon, those wishing to do so should contact them as soon as possible.