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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Date: March 10, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Afghanistan War Powers Resolution


Mr. ACKERMAN. I thank the chairman.

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the resolution. I am frankly astonished that the resolution has even come to the floor. I am afraid some of our colleagues either misunderstand the plain text of the War Powers Act or would like the House to initiate a legislative version of the so-called ``memory hole'' described by George Orwell in his foreboding novel 1984. The War Powers Act provides that in the event U.S. forces are engaged in hostilities without either a declaration of war or a specific statutory authorization, a concurrent resolution can be considered to force the withdrawal of our troops. An important piece of law to be sure, but one that is wholly irrelevant to the actual circumstances under which our troops are currently fighting.

Like many others in the House, I was present on September 14, 2001, when the House passed House Joint Resolution 64, to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the then-recent attacks launched against the United States. The vote, I would remind you, was 420 in favor and one against. I would note that the gentleman from Ohio, along with myself, was present and voted aye, as was the gentleman from Texas, as were 420 of us.

I would like to quote from that resolution which we are seeking to deny existed, which became Public Law 107-40 on September 18, 2001. It says, quote, ``That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons.''

Members may like or dislike the war in Afghanistan. They may think the President's new strategy is wise or foolish. They may regard the costs of the war as bearable or not, but they are plainly not entitled to argue that the hostilities were not pursuant to specific authorization by the United States Congress.

The 107th Congress authorized the use of force. The President of the United States signed that authorization into law. If a Member of this House is opposed to the war, and I am sympathetic to such views, then the proper remedy is to pass legislation to mandate withdrawal through the Congress under regular order.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. BERMAN. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. ACKERMAN. They can likewise vote against the annual and supplemental appropriations that fund the war.

What Members ought not be able to do is to waste 3 full hours of the House's time debating a resolution founded, at best, on a mistake and, at worst, a willful intention to pretend that recent history that we did authorize this war by a 420-1 vote can be dropped into the ``memory hole.''

No matter what Members believe about the war in Afghanistan, this resolution deserves to fail.