Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—released the following statement today following the Committee’s markup to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations of Military Force (AUMF):
“The framers of our Constitution did not intend for the president—any president—to have unchecked powers to wage war. That power was bestowed specifically upon members of Congress, because the decision to declare war or to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way is far too weighty to rest on the shoulders of one person.
“Over the past six decades, overly broad interpretations of authorities have allowed presidents to stray from that principle and our founders’ vision, and to drag our nation into endless, ever-expanding wars. The repeal of the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs is a necessary first step in returning war powers to the chambers of Congress, and helps lay the foundation for future, more comprehensive efforts such as repeal and reform of the 2001 AUMF to narrow and specify the use of military force. I am grateful that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is working together to achieve that goal, and will continue to do all that I can to advocate for the processes and safeguards we need to ensure that careful and thorough consideration precedes any decision that authorizes military operations that can quickly expand into major conflicts.”
Merkley has long vocally supported a new AUMF to restore Congress’s constitutional role in authorizing war; require congressional authorization for expanded military action; limit the use of U.S. ground forces; establish a 3-year sunset; require transparency; and repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, which have been stretched far beyond the direct expressed limits in the legislation.