Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill on Thursday that he and his co-sponsors say will not make it as easy for the U.S. to continue or initiate wars without constitutional congressional approval.
The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has been the justification for presidents from both parties to take military action abroad unilaterally, in theaters that weren’t related to who attacked the U.S. on 9/11.
Paul is joined by Sens. Mike Lee, J.D. Vance, and Mike Braun in introducing the End Endless Wars Act, which would repeal the 2001 AUMF 180 days after enactment.
The Republican senator explained the difficulties he’s had with other Republicans in trying to rollback AUMF during a foreign policy conference hosted by The American Conservative on Thursday.
“I have good news and bad news,” Paul told the audience. “The good news is that Congress finally voted to end a war. The bad news is the war they voted to end had already been over for about 15 years.”
I have continuously led the fight to reassess our foreign policy, to end our “forever wars” and bring our fighting forces home. That’s why I’m introducing the End Endless Wars Act today! pic.twitter.com/3F0J8lEIFX
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 8, 2023
“The vote was largely symbolic,” Paul said of the March AUMF vote, “but it shows you how disconnected the people are in Washington. Even though the war’s been over for 15 years. Even though the resolution specifically mentions Saddam Hussein and his government. We still have trouble, people, a lot of Republicans in fact, are alarmed, saying ‘how could we possibly do this’ and saying ‘what about Iran, what about Iran?’
He continued, “But the real vote, the vote of real value if we’re going to discuss whether or not to continue in so many wars in so many places would be the vote over the 9/11 proclamation.”
“People say ‘how could we live without an AUMF?’, Paul said. “And my response is ‘couldn’t we just try the Constitution?”
Co-sponsor Lee, who also spoke at Thursday’s conference, said in a press release, “The 2001 AUMF was enacted in response to the brutal attacks waged on 9/11 by terrorist groups based in Afghanistan. Twenty-two years later, the 2001 AUMF is still being used but for conflicts far beyond the boundaries of Afghanistan.”
He continued, “Today, we have a defense budget approaching a trillion dollars, we have a military-industrial complex growing richer every day that we remain at war, and we have troops deployed across the world under vague authorities like the 2001 AUMF with no defined mission or objectives set by Congress.”
“The 2001 AUMF has become one of the many instruments of misuse, and it is time for members of Congress to end this authority that keeps us in endless wars,” Lee ended.
Paul has introduced multiple pieces of legislation to repeal the individual AUMFs throughout his time in Congress.