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White House To Work With Congress To Replace AUMFs With More 'Narrow' Framework

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing on March 5.
Samuel Corum
Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing on March 5.

The White House will work with Congress to replace existing Authorizations for Use of Military Force with "a narrow and specific framework" aimed at protecting against terror attacks, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

AUMFs provide legal authority for a wide variety of military operations.

The three existing AUMFs have been criticized for being overly broad and sweeping. The first was signed in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. It has since been used as the legal authority for strikes against Islamic State in Syria.

Critics, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., have argued it has been used far beyond its original intent.

"We are committed to working with Congress to ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars," Psaki said on Twitter.

"Tim Kaine has been a leader on questions of war powers throughout his time in the Senate and has helped build a strong bipartisan coalition that understands the importance of Congress's constitutional prerogatives," Psaki said.

Psaki's remarks come after Kaine and Republican Sen. Todd Young this week introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs against Iraq, limiting Biden's ability to take military actions.

Kaine and others, including several Democrats, had criticized Biden in the last week for his administration's authorization of airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed militants in Eastern Syria. The Defense Department said the strikes were in response to recent attacks and threats against Americans and coalition personnel in Iraq.

Democrats have long complained that presidents have given themselves too much latitude in taking aggressive military action.

When news broke of the airstrikes last week, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said: "While the president has a responsibility to defend the people of the United States, our Constitution is clear that it is the Congress, not the President, who has the authority to declare war."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.