Congressman Garamendi Welcomes Authorization to Use Military Force Introduction, Concerned About Overly Broad "Associated Forces" Language

Press Release

Date: Feb. 11, 2015
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Defense

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, has long been a leader on the need for Congress to vote on any extended military action as required by the War Powers Resolution and the U.S. Constitution. Congressman Garamendi praised President Obama for bringing forward an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL, a brutal terrorist organization based in Iraq and Syria, has gruesomely executed several American citizens, including aid workers and journalists. It has engaged in ethnic cleansing, rape, and forced marriage, and it continues to threaten American allies in the region.

"I am thankful that President Obama has brought forward an AUMF against ISIL that Congress can consider, debate, amend, and ultimately vote on. This is an important step forward in adhering to Congress' responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to declare war, and it brings the federal government back to a more appropriate balance of power," Congressman Garamendi said.

Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, Congress has the responsibility to declare war in any military operation that lasts longer than 90 days. For our current operations against ISIL to be constitutional, a vote is needed.

"Importantly, this AUMF includes a three-year time limit. No AUMF should authorize indefinite war. It should be written to require Congress and the President to reevaluate the situation within a specific time frame," Garamendi said.

"There are two other sections that especially concern me," Garamendi added. "I am troubled by the inclusion of a clause authorizing force against "associated persons or forces.' There are many organizations that have complicated and conflicting allegiances and relationships, and associated forces language can be broadly interpreted to provide a legal foundation for military campaigns far beyond Congress' original intent. I am also troubled by the vague prohibition on "enduring offensive ground combat operations.' This language is also broad and could permit the large-scale deployment of U.S. ground forces under the reasoning that their deployment is not enduring or their operations are "defensive' in nature. These three aspects of this AUMF will be my focus as we debate and hopefully amend this legislation."

Congressman Garamendi supports the repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, because they were intended for America's war against Al Qaeda and the 2nd Gulf War. They have since been used as a justification for military operations that go far beyond Congress' original intent. The President's proposed AUMF would repeal the 2002 AUMF, and that is a positive step forward. The 2001 Afghanistan AUMF must be repealed and rewritten to narrowly define our continuing military actions in that country.