Congressman Cloud Introduces Bill to Stop Endless Wars

Today, Congressman Michael Cloud (TX-27) introduced a bill to keep U.S. troops out of endless wars called the Preventing Endless Armed Conflict and Engagement (PEACE) Act. The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the sole authority to declare war – not the president. However, over the course of the past several decades, that authority has shifted from the legislative branch to the executive. Congressman Cloud’s legislation would uphold Congress’ constitutional right to declare war.

The president has the authority to deploy military forces in an emergency and to respond to imminent threats. The PEACE Act would not diminish this authority. However, sustained military operations need approval from Congress according to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Current military operations in the Middle East were first authorized in 2001 and 2002 and have been relied on for two decades despite changes in our military landscape. Less than a fifth of today’s Congress voted on these authorizations, which specifically authorized military force against Saddam Hussein and the groups who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The PEACE Act would ensure that acts of war are regularly reviewed and reconsidered, particularly as the dynamics of conflict change over time.

First, the PEACE Act would sunset future military authorizations – also called “AUMFs” – to two years. This means that two years after first declaring war, Congress needs to reassess the situation before our military continues to engage. Second, the bill would establish requirements for drafting future military authorizations, such as stating a clear objective and setting a geographic scope. Finally, the State Department and Department of Defense would be required to submit an annual report on military operations. Both agencies would then brief Congress every six months so that Members can make informed decisions on reauthorizing AUMFs.

To be clear, this bill won’t impact existing operations and authorizations. It would simply ensure that Congress is conducting oversight in future conflicts in order to facilitate thoughtful discussion on our military operations.

“Members of Congress must take a more active role in our military engagements,” said Congressman Cloud. “It is our duty as Representatives in Congress to provide constitutional oversight for future AUMFs. We must have meaningful discussion and debate before sending our men and women into battle. Military deployments that are accountable to ‘we the people’ are one thing that sets us apart as a nation. We owe it to the troops, and we owe it to the American people.”

Click here to view Congressman Cloud’s PEACE Act floor remarks.

Concerned Veterans for America, FreedomWorks, and Friends Committee on National Legislation support Congressman’s Cloud bill.

“Congress has long shied away from its duty to authorize and oversee military action, dangerously skewing the constitutional balance of war powers,” said Nate Anderson, Executive Director of Concerned Veterans for America. “Leaving war-making decisions entirely to the executive branch continues to put American lives in harm’s way. The PEACE Act would work to restore our government’s balance of power and keep the U.S. out of irresponsible and endless conflicts — a win for the American people.”

“The PEACE Act will enhance congressional oversight and accountability on the use of military force and make it harder for politicians of any party to justify keeping our country in a perpetual state of war,” said Adam Brandon, President of FreedomWorks. “Rep. Cloud is right to lead this effort to restore the proper balance of power in the question of war and peace.”

“The framers of the Constitution carefully and purposefully designated Congress as the body with the power to declare war,” said Heather Brandon-Smith, Legislative Director for Militarism and Human Rights, Friends Committee on National Legislation. “Yet for two decades, successive presidents have expanded U.S. wars far beyond what Congress authorized by unilaterally stretching the scope of AUMFs passed in 2001 and 2002, with little congressional oversight. Representative Cloud’s bill would restore Congress’s role in making the difficult decision about whether the United States goes to war, and ensure continued congressional engagement over such wars. We are very grateful for this promising development in the critical effort to rebalance the division of war powers between Congress and the Executive Branch.”

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