Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Tuesday for stripping her amendment to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force from the annual defense appropriations bill “in the dead of night.”
Ryan should be ashamed of himself for forcing Republicans to strip out my bipartisan AUMF amdt in the dead of night. What is he afraid of?
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) July 19, 2017
The authorization, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has allowed three presidents to pursue militarily nations, organizations and individuals even tangentially related to the those attacks. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against it in 2001.
Since then, she has repeatedly offered bills and amendments to sunset the authorization. Her latest effort was surprisingly approved by the House Appropriations Committee with strong bipartisan support in late June.
A spokesperson for Ryan, AshLee Strong, told TPM in an email that Lee’s amendment “was an irresponsible measure that would have would have [sic] left service members in the field without an authorization to defeat al-Qaeda and ISIS and could have led to the release of the prisoners at Guantanamo.”
“There is a way to have this debate but an amendment that endangers our national security is not it,” she said (Lee’s amendment would have taken effect after 240 days).
Politico reported last week that Ryan met with Lee to have what the congresswoman’s spokesperson called a “robust discussion” about her amendment.
According to the report, Lee said after the meeting that she suspected Ryan would strip her amendment and include a much weaker one from Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), which asks the Defense Department to issue a report outlining what it would require in a new AUMF.
Lee was right: In lieu of her amendment, Cole’s was included in the National Defense Authorization Act last week.
Cole, a member of the Appropriations Committee who supported Lee’s amendment, defended the vote to RealClearPolitics afterward.
“It’s time for leadership to wake up, and the administration to wake up, and send over a recommended AUMF, mark it up and take it to the floor,” he said. “I don’t know any other way to get their attention because we’ve been talking about it for years.”
The House passed the NDAA on Friday in a 344-81 vote.