June 20, 2017

Udall: War in Syria Lacks Congressional Authorization, New AUMF with Limits on US Wars Needed Nearly 16 Years After 9/11

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, repeated his call for Congress to debate and vote on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to set parameters for the ongoing and escalating U.S. military involvement in Syria and other conflict areas. Udall said this should include a "sunset" -- a clear end date at which point Congress could reconsider whether to extend the authorization. Udall’s call comes after an American fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane in Syrian airspace on Sunday. After a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee on the need for an AUMF, Udall today reiterated his longstanding position that the U.S. cannot wage war against the Syrian government under the AUMF that was approved nearly 16 years ago following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Video of Udall questioning witnesses at today’s hearing can be found here. Udall released the following statement:

“Let’s be clear: the United States has effectively invaded Syria. We have troops on the ground who were not invited by the Syrian government. A U.S. Navy aircraft just shot down a Syrian aircraft, in Syrian airspace — the first air-to-air combat for U.S. forces in almost 20 years. And now, the Russians have responded that they will act to protect their ally, threatening to engage U.S. or coalition aircraft. We have entered dangerous territory, and I fear that we are rapidly headed toward another war in the Middle East with no clear strategy, no definitive time frame or cost, no clear winner – and no authorization from Congress. And we have an unproven president with an extremely unorthodox approach at the reins.

“This march toward war requires debate and authorization from Congress. That’s not a matter of opinion; that’s a constitutional requirement. As a member of Congress in 2001, I voted for the 9/11 AUMF to authorize military action against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and their allies. When I cast that vote nearly 16 years ago, I never would have imagined it would have been used to justify U.S. military engagement with the Syrian government in 2017.

"Congress cannot keep punting on its duty to consider the full costs and ramifications of a U.S. war with Syria — for our nation, for the Syrian people, and most importantly, for our men and women in harm’s way. My position now under the Trump administration is no different than it was under President Obama: our nation cannot afford another endless war and occupation in the Middle East. The president needs to seek an AUMF, and Congress needs to do our job and engage in the sober and serious deliberation this situation demands.”