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Sunsets and Expedited Procedures in Authorizations for Use of Military Force (“AUMFs”)

Session 30 of the Congressional Study Group

U.S. troops from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division check military equipment after their deployment to Poland for military exercises in Drawsko Pomorskie training area, Poland March 21, 2019.  REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. troops from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division check military equipment after their deployment to Poland for military exercises in Drawsko Pomorskie training area, Poland March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Editor's note:

The following is a summary of the 30th session of the Congressional Study Group on Foreign Relations and National Security, a program for congressional staff focused on critically engaging the legal and policy factors that define the role that Congress plays in various aspects of U.S. foreign relations and national security policy.

On October 19, 2023, the Congressional Study Group on Foreign Relations and National Security convened over Zoom to discuss a technical legislative design aspect of Authorizations for Use of Military force (“AUMFs”): the possible use of sunsets and expedited procedures. The topic had been a point of disagreement between members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee during the latest in a series of hearings on the perennially difficult topic of reforming 2001 AUMF adopted after the 9/11 attacks, the expansive use of which has controversially come to provide statutory authorization for most global U.S. counterterrorism operations. The study group convened the better understand how a sunset on the current or any new authorization or related mechanisms (like a presidential certification requirement) might operate, including by allowing (or requiring) Congress to weigh in periodically on any replacement authorization. 
 

The study group was joined by two outside experts, who led the discussion: 

  • Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution focusing on congressional rules and procedures, and author of the book Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Limitations in the U.S. Senate; and 
  • Tess Bridgeman, a senior fellow at NYU Law School’s Reiss Center on Law and Security, co-editor in chief of Just Security, and former Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council during the Obama administration. 

The study group coordinator, Scott R. Anderson, a former attorney-adviser at the U.S. Department of State and current fellow at the Brookings Institution, also contributed to the substantive discussion.

Prior to the session, the study group received the following recommended background readings: 

A full synopsis of this session is forthcoming. 

Visit the Congressional Study Group on Foreign Relations and National Security landing page to access notes and information on other sessions.