Lawmakers: Presidents who bypass Congress on war powers should face impeachment
WASHINGTON – A president who sends the U.S. military to war without congressional approval, which has become commonplace in recent decades, should face impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, two House lawmakers said Wednesday.
The radical proposal took the form of a resolution by Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, both members of the House Armed Services Committee, and marks the latest effort on Capitol Hill to reign in the president’s war powers.
In recent months, some House and Senate members have proposed a variety of ways to revamp the president’s outdated war powers, but none has gained much traction.
“If Congress does not debate sending your son or daughter to die for this country then we don’t need a Congress anyway,” Jones said Wednesday while flanked by Gabbard, military veterans and members of peace organizations at Capitol Hill. “Nothing is more sacred than to send a man or woman to die for this country.”
Jones and Gabbard were hoping to highlight their H.Res. 922, which was introduced last month and has yet to be debated on the House floor. Unlike a legislative bill, a resolution is a non-binding measure and expresses a chamber’s commitment on a particular issue.
Gabbard, who served in Iraq and is now a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, said Congress has not officially declared war since World War II.
“Ever since, Congress has failed to uphold this congressional duty and has ceded this power to president, presidents of both parties,” Gabbard said. “So our country remains in a state of perpetual war at a great cost to the American people.”
The proposed resolution is also a reminder of stalled action in Congress as lawmakers in both chambers struggle to reach a consensus on how to reign in the president’s war powers. This year, Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Republican chairman and a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, filed legislation to revamp the president’s war powers. But the bipartisan bill has seen little movement.
The moves followed several others on Capitol Hill to update the president’s authority for use of military force, or AUMF, powers, which provides the legal authority necessary to fight terrorist abroad.
The president’s AUMF powers were issued in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and 2002 when the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It’s so sickening it’s taken this long for some measure of accountability,” said Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain who has spoken out about the wars since he resigned in protest from a State Department post in Afghanistan in 2009 and consulted for several area think tank groups.
After visiting with countless relatives of servicemembers killed in the recent wars, Hoh said “someone has to answer for that. That’s something that has been lost on us, that these wars must end… It’s going to bring some degree of accountability to the killing that has been going on for decades with nobody taking responsibility for it.”