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Rand Paul Warns AUMF Gives the President Unlimited War Powers

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Washington, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) publicly rebuked the recently-proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), warning about the bill’s potential dangers and how its passage could further codify war-making powers in the hands of the executive branch. In an op-ed published Monday, Paul explained how passage of the AUMF, Congress is abdicating authority to prevent unlimited war, and is instead going to codify the “unacceptable, unconstitutional status quo.”

“It is clear upon reading the AUMF, put forward by Senators Tim Kaine and Bob Corker, that it gives nearly unlimited power to this or any other president to be at war whenever he or she wants, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority,” Paul wrote in an op-ed in the American Conservative.

“Under this bill, Congress could only disapprove of war, turning the Constitution on its head,” Paul claimed. “Even worse, any resolution of disapproval could be vetoed, meaning two thirds of Congress would need to disapprove of a war, rather than a majority to approve of one. That’s a huge, unwise, and unconstitutional change.”

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[Related: Civil Liberties Advocates: Proposed AUMF Gives President “Blank Check” War Powers]

Sen. Paul declared that passage of a proposed new AUMF would serve to further remove Congress from the equation in terms of declaring war, and that this combats the checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers to prevent consolidation of power within the executive branch.

“That isn’t an AUMF. That isn’t Congress reclaiming its constitutional duties. That’s a complete rewriting of the role of the executive and of the constitutional separation of powers.”

The Kentucky senator noted that the Founding Fathers knew of the tendency of the executive branch to launch wars, so they built in checks to prevent it. Currently, the War Powers Act is supposed to limit the use of force by the executive, with the exception of a national emergency or an imminent attack, but rarely does so in the modern era. As Paul wrote, “For some time now, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to declare war. The status quo is that we are at war anywhere and anytime the president says so.”

Paul warned that “If this AUMF is passed, Congress will have chosen to make itself irrelevant on the issue of war.”

Read the full op-ed by Sen. Rand Paul here.

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