Yesterday, Senator Jeff Merkley, joined by Senator Ron Wyden, announced a bipartisan resolution to underscore that any future war must be considered and authorized by Congress. Specifically, the resolution clarifies that neither the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force passed following the September 11 attacks nor the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq legally justify the use of military force against Iran.
Merkley led the resolution along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who serves alongside Merkley on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Senators’ resolution comes after days of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran that have put American service members at risk and created significant setbacks to the United States’ goals in the region: decreasing Iranian influence in Iraq, protecting American lives and assets in the Middle East, and restricting the Iranian nuclear program.
“The American people do not want another endless war in the Middle East—yet what we’ve seen in recent days is a president willing to make significant military decisions bringing us closer to war without consulting Congress or recognizing that our Constitution gives war making power to Congress, not the President,” Merkley said. “It’s time for the Senate to send a clear message: The cost of sending our sons and daughters into danger is too great for any one president to make a singlehanded decision to send our nation into war.”
“Donald Trump’s cavalier use of force and lack of adequate planning have made the Middle East a more dangerous place than it already was just a week ago. It is clear that the Senate must make its own statement that there’s no congressional authorization for use of military force against Iran,” Wyden said. “Our country is a nation of laws, and Trump can’t be allowed to scheme his way around those laws to go off on erratic and risky overseas adventures that endanger lives.”
Previously, Merkley introduced the Constitutional Consideration for Use of Force Act, legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs and prevent any new terrorism AUMF from being used to remain in an endless cycle of armed conflict or to circumvent the Constitution.
The Senators announced the resolution shortly after receiving a classified briefing from top Administration officials. The Administration’s public justifications for the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani have varied wildly, including many suggested rationales such as the prevention of an imminent threat, retribution for past terrorist acts, or the defense of Iraq.
The full text of the resolution is available here.