The U.S. Senate on Wednesday turned back an attempt to repeal the current authority for American military force in the 16-year-old Afghanistan war and the fight in Iraq, CNBC reported.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, an anti-war crusader, had offered an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to repeal war authority granted in 2001 and 2002. He argued Wednesday that the current war authorizations are outdated and that Congress needed to “grab power back” from the executive branch, which he said has been using the war authorizations for “unauthorized, unconstitutional and undeclared war.”
Paul had threatened to essentially slow down the legislative process for passing the fiscal 2018 NDAA unless there was a floor debate on the war authorizations. The NDAA sets forth the Pentagon’s budget and major programs for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1.
But by a 61-36 vote, the Senate voted to table the Paul amendment — in effect killing — the attempt to repeal the war authorizations.
Democrat Sen. Jack Reed, ranking member of SASC, rose to speak against the Paul amendment. He said voting for it would have had “practical and almost immediate consequences” to U.S. service members in the field, allies as well as emboldened adversaries.
Similarly, Republican Sen. John McCain, the SASC chairman, argued against the Paul amendment and said it wasn’t necessary to rush the issue to the floor.
“Haven’t we had enough of bringing things to the floor without hearings, without amendments, without debate,” McCain said. “I’m confident that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of my colleagues would agree to approve the use of military force against the vicious, brutal enemy we face in ISIS and associated forces.”
McCain also argued that repealing the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations without simultaneously passing a new one “would be premature, would be irresponsible and it would threaten U.S. national security.”
The AUMF, or Authorization for Use of Military Force, was first used in 2001 by President George W. Bush when the U.S. deployed forces to Afghanistan.
If the Paul amendment had prevailed, though, it could have forced President Donald Trump to wind down ongoing military operations against the Taliban and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, as well as the fight against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and other countries. That said, there would have been a six-month window for Congress to consider new war authorizations.
“After 16 years, it’s difficult to determine the purpose in Afghanistan,” Paul said during the debate.