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DeFazio Applauds Biden’s Support to Rein in ‘Endless Wars’, Re-Introduces War Powers Legislation to Reaffirm Congress’s Constitutional Authority

Mar 8, 2021
Press Release

After President Joe Biden indicated his intention to rein in open-ended foreign conflicts Friday, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today re-introduced comprehensive legislation that reaffirms and strengthens Congress’s constitutional war powers authority.

DeFazio’s legislation, the War Powers Amendments of 2021, clarifies under the Constitution that any president must seek congressional authorization prior to sending U.S. forces into hostilities, and it sets out strict parameters for any future authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that Congress might consider.

“I’m thrilled to hear President Biden speak out against the ridiculous use of decades-long AUMFs to justify the U.S.’s military involvement in endless conflicts around the world,” said Rep. DeFazio. “This is a great step, but Congress must also prevent any president from avoiding the constitutional obligation to seek congressional authorization before introducing U.S. forces into hostilities—which my legislation would do. I have long called on presidents of both parties to respect Congress’s constitutional power to declare war and consult with Congress before committing U.S. forces to any military conflict, as laid out in Article I of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Congress, our men and women in uniform, and the American people deserve to know the full scope of any potential conflict—including an exit strategy—before the U.S. considers putting troops in harm’s way.”

The bill provides the president an exception in the case of an immediate threat to the United States, its troops, or its citizens overseas. In addition, it would give any member of Congress the right to sue the Executive Branch if it does not comply with the bill’s provisions.

Although the U.S. Constitution grants Congress, not the executive branch, the power to declare war, the war powers of the legislative branch have eroded over time. For the last fifty years, many presidents of both parties have unlawfully exerted sole authority to commit U.S. forces to armed conflict overseas.

A recognized watchdog of Congress’s power to declare war, Rep. DeFazio has repeatedly introduced similar legislation throughout his tenure in Congress.

Rep. DeFazio was joined in introducing the bill by the following original cosponsors: Reps. Bobby Rush (IL-01), Steve Cohen (TN-09), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03).

The legislation has been endorsed by the following organizations: Project on Government Oversight, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Just Foreign Policy, Demand Progress.