Why Sunset and Supersession Provisions Are Both Needed in an Anti-ISIL AUMF

Yesterday, I testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), in a forum on the President’s proposed authorization to use military force (AUMF) against ISIL.

My testimony focused on three points: First, the need to sunset the 2001 AUMFsecond, the need to make clear that the ISIL AUMF provides the sole source of authority for fighting ISIL — something something that Secretary of State John Kerry supported in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week; and third, to the extent that Congress chooses to authorize force against “associated forces,” the importance of defining that term in accordance with recognized principles of co-belligerency — and thereby reject the overly-broad definition offered by the Obama administration in its draft legislation.

Each of these proposed amendments to the President’s draft authorization serve critical and distinct functions, each is an essential component of a final bill, and — contrary to the suggestions of some — the supersession and sunset provisions are not alternatives to one another. A supersession provision protects against redundancy; it ensures that the ISIL AUMF provides the exclusive source of authority to fight ISIL and that any limitations included in the ISIL-specific provision have force. A 2001 AUMF sunset, by comparison, serves the very different purpose of ensuring that, come 2018, Congress and the American people have a chance to assess whether the conflict should be re-authorized, and if so, against whom and for what purposes. Such a sunset is also needed to ensure that if and when the ISIL AUMF expires and is not renewed, a future administration does not simply revert back to the 2001 AUMF as a means of continuing the conflict against ISIL, in contradiction of congressional intent.

I was joined by Bill French from the National Security Network who testified about the importance of robust reporting requirements, among other things.

My full testimony is below. 

And here is video from the forum:

 

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Daskal

Associate Professor at American University Washington College of Law Follow her on Twitter (@jendaskal).