Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Congress easily approved an AUMF -- an Authorization for the Use of Military Force -- empowering the Bush/Cheney administration to respond to those responsible for the terrorist strikes. At the time, the vote was nearly unanimous, but not quite: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) opposed the measure, fearing the AUMF was too broad and would be used to justify foreign interventions that had nothing to do with 9/11.
Rep Lee AUMF repeal effort begins to pay offJune 30, 201703:25
In hindsight, her concerns were well grounded. As Rachel noted on the show a few weeks ago, since the measure's passage in 2001, this AUMF has served as the legal basis for at least 37 different U.S. military operations in at least 14 different countries -- many of which have no meaningful connection to 9/11 or al Qaeda.
As the years have progressed, calls from Barbara Lee and others for a new AUMF related to counter-terrorism have grown louder, for rather obvious reasons: stretching the 9/11 measure is legally suspect, and as our security challenges have changed, it makes sense to revisit and improve the old framework.
And so, it came as a very pleasant surprise last month when the House Appropriations Committee reached a bipartisan consensus on the issue. With near unanimity, Democrats and Republicans on the committee adopted an amendment from Barbara Lee -- an amendment she's offered year after year for the past decade -- which would repeal the old AUMF and open the door for a new one, to be passed within the next eight months.
When the measure actually passed the committee, giving Barbara Lee a victory years in the making, the number of people saying, "Wow" was audible throughout the room. There was even spontaneous applause.
All of which was quite heartening, until last night.
In a pair of tweets, the California Democrat said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) quietly removed her amendment from the larger defense spending bill before it could receive a floor vote.
Ryan stripped my 01 AUMF repeal amdt from DOD Approps in the dead of night. This is underhanded & undemocratic. The people deserve a debate!Ryan should be ashamed of himself for forcing Republicans to strip out my bipartisan AUMF amdt in the dead of night. What is he afraid of?
I don't imagine we've heard the last of this. Watch this space.