Senators Seek to Limit US President’s Unilateral Military Force Authorization

A new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) bill introduced by US Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) would repeal and replaced the AUMF passed in the days following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and cancel the 2002 AUMF used to go to war with Iraq.

Senators Kaine and Corker were backed by a group of four other lawmakers when they introduced their AUMF bill on Monday. The bill would require presidents of the United States to alert relevant committees in the US Congress before adding a group to the list of entities the United States can use military force against, although the bill explicitly makes exemptions for “sovereign nations.”

In the past, the president could only authorize force against groups associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban or others that had a hand in the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) widened the scope to permit force against groups who supported them as well. All this could be done secretly, without telling Congress, as permitted by the 2001 AUMF. 

Former US President Barack Obama used the 2001 AUMF to go to war with Daesh, although the group had a high-profile split from al-Qaeda and therefore was not an affiliate, with his administration arguing it was a “legally insignificant fact.”

The new bill expands the list of terrorist groups the United States can strike, allowing new additions so long as the president updates the list and tells Congress. Under…

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