February 11, 2020

In Hearing, Duckworth Pushes to Reassert Congressional Role in Matters of War and Peace in Afghanistan


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – At today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on our nation’s strategy in Afghanistan, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) questioned experts about the outdated 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), highlighting that Congress should vote on a new AUMF that would accurately reflect what troops are doing on the ground and authorize operations in Afghanistan. Video of Duckworth’s questions at the hearing is available here.

The Constitution grants Congress with the sole power to declare war. With this authority comes a solemn responsibility to make sure our Armed Forces are properly resourced, and a commitment to making sure our nation actually brings the wars we authorize to an end,” said Duckworth. “While the 107th Congress clearly passed the 2001 AUMF to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, subsequent Congresses and Presidents have done little to prevent multiple administrations from interpreting this 2001 law to justify nearly any military operation in the region. Whether one supports or opposes the current U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, there should be consensus—and more importantly acceptance—that ultimately it’s the responsibility of the 116th Congress to debate and vote on the path forward in Afghanistan.

Since she was elected to Congress, Duckworth has urged her colleagues to replace our outdated AUMFs, which set the legal framework, parameters and constitutional basis for our ongoing military engagements. In July 2019, during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Duckworth asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper whether or not existing AUMFs give Donald Trump the authority to go to war with Iran, and under her questioning, Esper agreed that they do not. In 2017, she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for a new AUMF.