What: All Issues : War & Peace : General US Intervention Overseas : (H.R. 1540) On an amendment that would have eliminated a highly controversial provision in a Defense bill that that granted the president the authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces." (2011 house Roll Call 361)
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(H.R. 1540) On an amendment that would have eliminated a highly controversial provision in a Defense bill that that granted the president the authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces."
house Roll Call 361     May 26, 2011
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would have eliminated a highly controversial provision in a Defense bill that that granted the president the authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces." Critics of this provision argued that it amounted to an open-ended authorization for the president to pursue endless warfare in the pursuit of terrorists.

Amash urged support for his amendment: “Section 1034 [of the underlying bill] contains, perhaps, the broadest authorization for use of military force Congress has ever considered. In doing so, it essentially delegates nearly all of Congress' constitutional war powers to the president. It expands Congress' use of force to include `associated forces,' a group the bill does not define….associated forces don't need to be connected to 9/11. Associated forces don't need to have fought against the United States, and associated forces may even include American citizens. There is no geographical limit to the authorization. Force may be used worldwide at the President's discretion. Please join me in opposing this broad, new AUMF [authorization of use of force]. Please support amendment No. 50 [this amendment].”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) also supported the amendment: “This sweeping provision is dangerous. It should not be included in such a massive bill with, once again, little or no debate. It should be removed. I urge every member of the House to consider carefully the ramifications of destroying the balance of powers that exist to protect this democracy and our nation. So I urge an aye vote on this amendment.”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) opposed the amendment: “I think as we look across this chamber, there are very few members that have ever served on a 21st century battlefield, a 21st century battlefield that is comprised of nonstate, nonuniform belligerents who have no respect for borders or boundaries….All…section 1034 says is that we affirm that we are engaged in an armed conflict. It has a very narrow definition. And it also looks at the global conflagration in which we are in. And it also addresses that we should be seeking to remove these belligerents off of the battlefield. I have had the experience in 2003 in Iraq. I have had the experience for 2 1/2 years in Afghanistan. And if we allow an amendment such as this to go forth, it would have precluded us from going in and killing the world's number one terrorist, Osama bin Laden.”

The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 187-234. Voting “yea” were 166 Democrats—including a majority of Republicans--and 21 Republicans. 214 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House voted to maintain controversial language in a defense bill that granted the president the authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces."

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