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Published On: Sat, Jun 9th, 2018

AUMF hearing: Senators, Constitutional scholars discuss war powers

In what was perhaps the most important thing and consequential that happened in Washington this week that got so little coverage was the hearing on “War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Military Engagements on Federal Spending” with the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO) Subcommittee for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Wednesday.

Image/Video screen shot

The hearing focused on the constitutional implications of open-ended war under both the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the revised AUMF proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The hearing was chaired by U.S. Senator Rand Paul and in addition to committee members, Dr. Paul opened the hearing to other senators, with Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) asking questions.

The panel consisted of  Judge Andrew Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst at the Fox News Channel; Professor Jonathan Turley from The George Washington University School of Law; and Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office to offer their expert Constitutional opinion and testimony.

Judge Napolitano spoke on the kind of situation passing the Kaine-Corker plan would leave us in, as it would ultimately require two-thirds of Congress to disapprove of a war instead of a majority to approve of one.

He noted, “So a president with one-third plus one in either house can wage war on any target at any time the president chooses to do so.  That is so contrary to what Madison intended, so contrary to the plain meaning of the Constitution, so violative of the separation of powers as to be a rejection of the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, and none of you wants to reject that oath.”

Watch the full hearing:

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