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Why We Voted Against the War Powers Resolution

The New York Times logo The New York Times 4 days ago Elaine Luria and Max Rose
a group of people wearing military uniforms: American Special Forces troops at an outpost outside the town of Manbij in northern Syria in 2018. © Mauricio Lima for The New York Times American Special Forces troops at an outpost outside the town of Manbij in northern Syria in 2018.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

The most consequential decision a member of Congress can make is whether to send troops into harm’s way, and it is one we take seriously and personally. We both served in the greater Middle East and saw the impact of these intractable conflicts on our fellow service members and their families. Our military personnel are our nation’s most valuable asset; we must not send them into unnecessary war.

We voted against the War Powers Resolution that the House passed this week because it merely restated existing law. It addressed a de-escalated conflict with a symbolic vote that did more to distract than to fix the real challenges we face. If Congress wants to assert its power to declare war, we must take on the hard task of publicly debating a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, the A.U.M.F., as it’s commonly called, as well as congressional appropriations for military operations. That is where decisions of war and peace are made.

Qassim Suleimani was a terrorist responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans. Our fellow service members were killed and wounded at his direction, and all intelligence indicates that he was in the process of planning further attacks. President Trump was within his right to order this attack and is now correctly de-escalating the conflict with the clear mandate that we must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability.

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We are not at war with Iran, and no president can engage in war without congressional approval. But the commander in chief holds the authority and responsibility to target hostile combatants who threaten American forces and civilians. The War Powers Resolution passed by the House this week sends the wrong message to the American people and the world that our nation is heading toward or is currently engaged in war with Iran. Neither is true.

While we respect our colleagues who serve our nation and supported this resolution, the debate Congress should have is not whether the president had the authority to carry out the Suleimani killing, but rather how we move forward as a governing body if we must commit forces in future sustained combat operations to protect our nation.

It is Congress’s responsibility to act as a check on presidential power — and that includes on matters relating to war. This past week underscored that the United States is operating under outdated laws governing the use of force. We must replace the nearly two-decade-old A.U.M.F.s with a legal framework that empowers the president to act against threats to our nation while constraining him from unilaterally placing us on a path to war. We must also use the power of the purse in stating our military objectives.

Our constituents sent us to Congress to do what is right, even when it is difficult. This transcends partisan politics. It’s about changing the way we engage in war and peace for decades to come. Now it is up to Congress to debate an A.U.M.F. that reflects the threats of today and tomorrow, not the forever wars of yesterday.

Elaine Luria (@ElaineLuriaVA) serves the 2nd District of Virginia in the United States Congress. She’s a Navy veteran. Max Rose (MaxRose4NY) serves New York’s 11th District in Congress. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Army.

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