Open the Government Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg applauded Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley for introducing the Constitutional Consideration for Use of Force Act. The bill is an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is truly in line with constitutional checks and balances, unlike legislation introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is currently debating. Senator Merkley’s bill offers a path to rein in the executive branch’s ability to declare and wage endless wars without congressional debate and authorization, and would provide the public with a clearer picture of who the U.S. is fighting and why.
“Too often, Congress has shown its willingness to defer to the executive branch when it comes to deciding whether this country will engage in endless, secretive wars,” said Open the Government’s Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “Sen. Merkley’s bill gives Congress the chance to assert its constitutional role in deciding whether to wage wars, as well as determine the scope and duration of future conflicts.”
In his statement, Sen. Merkley explained why he offered an alternative bill: “At its core the bill [Corker-Kaine] before the committee empowers presidents to expand the scope of the United States’ war on terrorism to new groups and geography without seeking prior congressional authorization. And because that bill has no sunset, it sets the stage for endless war…We need to restore the vision of the Constitution and make sure that Congress, not the President, has the ultimate say in the decision to send our troops into battle. That is why my AUMF ensures Congress must vote proactively before the President expands the war to new groups and territories and puts in additional checks and balances, including a 3-year sunset clause, limits on ground troops, and requiring adherence to international law.”
While Open the Government takes no position on whether use of military force is appropriate against the groups Senator Merkley listed in his AUMF, the organization strongly advocates for vigorous public debate before new wars are waged, and for Congress to exercise its authorizing and oversight roles.
Open the Government is an inclusive, nonpartisan coalition that works to strengthen our democracy and empower the public by advancing policies that create a more open, accountable, and responsive government.