DeFazio has long advocated for constraint on using our Armed Forces. He is a recognized expert on Congress' constitutional prerogative to declare war and has fought for fiscal responsibility and accountability at the Pentagon so that scare funds can be better spent on the basic needs of our troops, obligations to veterans of past wars, and other domestic priorities.
Taking Back Congress' War Powers
DeFazio is a recognized expert and public watchdog of Congress' constitutional prerogative to declare war. Ultimately, Congress — not the President — has the authority to declare war, as granted by the Constitution. Unfortunately, Congress’s constitutional war powers have steadily eroded over the last five decades.
In DeFazio’s view, despite passage of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 — an attempt by Congress to curb the presidential overreach that occurred during the Vietnam War — it is clear the final legislation was flawed and did not effectively constrain the Executive Branch from sending unauthorized forces into hostilities. Since then, presidents of both parties have continued to unlawfully exert sole authority to commit U.S. forces to armed conflict overseas.
Throughout his time in Congress, DeFazio has criticized presidents of both parties for violating the war powers that Article I of our Constitution grants to Congress. That’s why he’s consistently introduced his War Powers Amendments, legislation which would reform the flawed War Powers Resolution of 1973 and strengthen Congress’s constitutional war powers authorities.
DeFazio’s reforms would require that any president must first consult with Congress and receive congressional authorization before sending U.S. troops into hostilities, prohibit funds from being used for unauthorized military actions, close loopholes to ensure the Executive Branch cannot continue to perform legal gymnastics to avoid congressional authorization, and prevent future endless wars by requiring a sunset clause and exit strategy for any Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). DeFazio’s legislation would provide the President an exception in the case of an immediate threat to the United States, its troops, or its citizens overseas.
DeFazio believes it’s beyond time for Congress to comprehensively overhaul the legislation which has enabled our nation’s endless wars. He strongly believes the American people deserve to know the full scope of any potential conflict — including an exit strategy — before the U.S. even considers putting our troops in harm’s way in another military campaign in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.
Stopping Our Endless Wars
Along with his War Powers Amendments, DeFazio has consistently fought against efforts by presidents of both parties to recklessly continue our endless wars and start new ones.
DeFazio has a long and consistent record opposing the war in Iraq. He voted against the original authorization for the war in October 2002 after rejecting the Bush Administration's bogus arguments about weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda, which were based on phony intelligence. DeFazio introduced legislation in February 2003 to repeal the congressional authorization of the Iraq war before it started. Since then, DeFazio has consistently supported repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, which successive administrations of both parties have attempted to use to illegally justify U.S. involvement in unauthorized military conflicts.
DeFazio has been an outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan. He adamantly opposed the Obama Administration’s escalation of the war and has repeatedly voted in Congress to bring a responsible end to the open-ended conflict. DeFazio has called on the Bush, Obama, and Trump Administrations to provide a clear exit strategy.
For years, DeFazio has supported repeal of the 2001 AUMF, an outdated authorization that presidents have continuously used well beyond its original intent to justify unauthorized military force throughout the world and continue today’s endless wars.
DeFazio has also consistently opposed unauthorized, unilateral military actions by the Executive branch in countries around the world, including Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and more.
Defense Budget Watchdog
Throughout his time in Congress, DeFazio has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on Pentagon waste, and he has strongly opposed massive spending increases to an already bloated Pentagon budget. For years, Congress has continued to increase the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) budget despite overwhelming evidence of its waste and abuse of taxpayer money.
While DeFazio believes DOD should have the funds it needs to protect our nation and provide well-deserved pay raises and benefits to our troops and veterans, DeFazio opposes the bloated defense spending that grants massive windfalls to defense contractors and provides incentives to recklessly continue our nation’s unauthorized endless wars, make America act as the “world’s policeman,” and increasingly put our troops in harm’s way.
Since the year 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent over $13 trillion of taxpayer funds – making it the largest and most expensive department in the federal government. Yet unlike every other federal agency, the DOD has yet to pass a financial audit. To date, the DOD has spectacularly failed full financial audits, which have highlighted numerous examples of waste and abuse of taxpayer money.
DeFazio believes American taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going. He thinks it’s ridiculous to continue providing the DOD with massive spending increases – totaling well over $700 billion each year – when the Pentagon cannot even account for how it spends taxpayer money.
That’s why DeFazio has authored and supported legislation to require every agency within the DOD to finally pass a full financial audit.
DeFazio has also consistently opposed the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, a fiscally irresponsible fund that is not counted in the budget, recklessly adds to our mounting national debt, and has no congressional oversight. DeFazio strongly believes OCO is nothing more than a Pentagon slush fund that gives a blank check to fund endless wars that Congress hasn’t authorized.
The bottom line is that fiscal responsibility and accountability at the Pentagon would allow for funds to be better spent supporting the needs of our troops, meeting our obligations to veterans, and ensuring our legitimate defense needs are prioritized.
Opposing Government Surveillance
DeFazio has a long history of supporting Americans’ right to privacy against government infringement. In 2001, DeFazio was one of only 66 House Members to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act, which he feared gave the federal government too much unchecked power over the rights of law-abiding citizens and lacked effective oversight tools for Congress. Unfortunately, revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) pervasive spying on Americans in subsequent years confirmed DeFazio’s fears.
DeFazio has consistently opposed reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act and related mass surveillance programs – which he believes are unconstitutional – unless and until significant reforms are made to protect the constitutional privacy rights of U.S. citizens. For years, DeFazio has urged congressional leadership under both parties to take up meaningful reform of these government spying programs and allow for sincere, robust debate on how to restore Americans’ constitutional rights to privacy while also protecting our nation’s security.
DeFazio does not believe that obtaining the phone and data records of millions upon millions of Americans without a warrant is relevant to a terrorism investigation. As he’s always said, while we must ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need to assess, detect, and prevent future terrorist attacks, he doesn’t believe we have to shred the Constitution and Bill of Rights in order to fight terrorism.
Human Rights and Diplomacy
As a long-time member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Congressman DeFazio has been a strong voice in support of human rights around the world. DeFazio strongly supports diplomacy and believes the United States should explore every conceivable alternative to resolving our differences with foreign nations before engaging in armed conflict.
DeFazio is a vocal critic of the use of torture and supports the permanent closure of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This unnecessary prison – estimated to be the most expensive in the world – costs approximately $540 million in taxpayer money each year to house roughly 40 prisoners and has been used as a top recruiting tool by terrorists around the world. DeFazio believes Guantanamo contradicts American values, undermines U.S. diplomatic and military missions, strains our relationship with key allies, and puts American troops and citizens at risk of retaliation.
More on National Security
Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today issued the following statement on the terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport, which killed dozens of people, including U.S. servicemembers, and injured many more.
Rep. DeFazio today released the following statement in response to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces.
Today, U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Rodney Davis (IL-13) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) urged the House Armed Services Committee to reject efforts to expand military draft registration.
Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), along with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and John Katko (R-NY) today re-introduced legislation to bolster funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its workforce, ensuring that the agency has the necessary funds and resources to ensure the safety of America’s air travelers, pay its dedicated Transportation Security Officers (TSO), and invest in twenty-first century security technology.
Thursday, Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), and Joaquin Castro (TX-24) introduced H. Con. Res. 123, bipartisan legislation that would end unauthorized U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today voted in favor of H.Con.Res. 83, legislation that directs President Trump to end the use of American forces in hostilities against Iran unless he receives authority from Congress. DeFazio also spoke on the House Floor to urge Congress to reassert its constitutional war powers authority.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today released the following statement on President Trump’s order of a military strike on Iranian General Qassim Suleimani, a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps:
“If we are not careful, President Trump’s impulsive recklessness will lead the United States into yet another endless war in the Middle East. Our founders ensured that the Constitution grants Congress—not the executive branch—the power to declare war, specifically to act as a check on presidential war-mongering.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today released the following statement on his vote against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020:
“Today I voted against the Conference Report to Accompany S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
WASHINGTON, DC—Following is a statement from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) on House passage of H.Res. 660, a resolution to establish the next phase of the House impeachment inquiry including open hearings on the abuse of power by the president.
WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, today led the floor debate for Democrats on S.J.Res. 54, A Joint Resolution Terminating President Trump’s Unlawful Emergency Declaration. The joint resolution would end the president’s emergency declaration of February 15, established to work around the Constitution and Congress to fund an ineffective border wall. The Senate passed the same resolution earlier this week by a vote of 54 to 41.