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Paul Amendment to Repeal Post-9/11 AUMF to Fight Terrorism Fails with 36 Backers

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks to supporters at The Champions of Liberty Rally in Hebron, Ky., on Aug. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) unsuccessfully tried to repeal the post-9/11 authorization for use of military force (AUMF) as an amendment to the defense reauthorization bill today, accusing the “no” votes of not standing with him “to enforce, obey, and execute the Constitution.”

Paul’s amendment would have repealed the AUMF, which last received a vote in 2002, in six months in order to allow new time to debate and vote on the sunsetting provisions.

Sixty-one senators, including almost all of Paul’s own party, voted to table the amendment, joined by a dozen Democrats. Among the 35 senators who joined Paul were two Republicans: Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Mike Lee (Utah). Both independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also voted with Paul.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tweeted that he voted for Paul’s amendment because “we owe it to our troops risking their lives to vote on an AUMF & I hope this accelerates the debate.”

Paul noted on MSNBC this morning that if he’d been in Congress in 2001 he “would have voted for the resolution to go after the people who attacked us on 9/11.”

“But I don’t think one generation should bind another generation to war. I don’t think that the resolution in 2001 has anything to do with the seven different wars that we’re involved with now,” he argued. “And so, yes, this is an important day. Today will be the first major vote we have not necessarily on ending the wars, which I would like to do, but on whether we should even vote on whether to continue war or to end war. So this is a big step forward.”

“For the past several years, even decades, Congress has been avoiding this debate, so I have forced them to come to the floor,” he added, noting that getting the vote “was like pulling teeth.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement that “supporters of this provision are well meaning” but “simply repealing the 2001 and 2002 authorizations without providing for consideration of an alternative plan could put our brave servicemen and women in uniform at risk and jeopardize our current missions abroad.”

“Furthermore, the 2012 NDAA provides for the authority to detain terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by invoking the 2001 AUMF. That authority could be called into question if the 2001 AUMF were simply repealed,” Cruz added. “Our men and women in uniform deserve clarity and certainty from us. I therefore cannot vote today to simply repeal both authorities and leave our nation without a clearly defined military objective or solution.”