The United States constitution is very deliberate about the separation of powers; a perfect example of this is the ability to go to war. Though the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the legislature is charged with funding those forces and declaring war. This separation is what led to the passage of the Authorization for the Use of Force after September 11th, giving the President the authority necessary to go after those who had attacked the country, wherever they hid around the world. Amazingly, that authorization is still being used today as the legal authority for our military actions against the Islamic State.
The extended life of this authorization has prevented true debate and accountability for the continued conflicts we have been engaged in over the past several years. Of the 100 senators who voted to authorize the use of force, only 26 are still in office. That means that 74 current senators could claim to have little direct responsibility for the military actions being undertaken by our military.
Thankfully, that is about to change. It has been reported that the President is drafting a new Authorization to be taken up for debate by the legislature. This provides an excellent opportunity for us to ensure a new level of accountability and reflection by our nation’s leaders.
Below you will find a sample letter; below that is a list of every senator, which is linked to their contact pages. My hope is that if you agree with the sentiment of the letter you will take the time to send it to your senator. Please change the wording in whatever way you see fit. The goal of this is not necessarily to defeat the Authorization, it is simply to ensure that no senator can claim they were not aware of the consequences of such a vote by having the name of every service member who has been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq read during the debate over the Authorization. After 14 years of war, we now know the consequences of going to war. It is time the government takes responsibility for those consequences.
Over the past several years I have grown concerned with the way our military continues to be committed to actions around the world without a complete debate of the implications or real accountability from our national leadership. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force, passed just three days after September 11th 2001, has now been used to engage in conflict for nearly fourteen years in numerous countries around the world. These conflicts have resulted in the deaths of thousands of service members. Our current involvement in Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State has already led to the deaths of three service members despite assurances that the country is not at war.
Our nation must have the ability to use military force against our enemies. However, in doing so, we must remember the consequences of such actions on the lives of thousands of individuals and families around the country. Daughters lost, fathers sacrificed, husbands gone, lives never to be the same. Beyond the thousands killed in the fighting, there are hundreds of thousands of others for whom the fight has not ended. Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and countless other battlefield wounds will continue to follow those who volunteered to serve for the rest of their lives.
The first and most important honor we can give to those who have sacrificed is to ensure their memory informs our future decisions. A new Authorization for the Use of Force is currently being drafted for our fight against the Islamic State. I ask that in the debate over this authorization on the Senate floor, a delay be taken long enough for the reading of the names of every service member who has died in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. This will not represent all who have sacrificed but it will serve as a reminder of the cost of going to war. However you choose to vote on this Authorization, I ask that you take the time to ensure all members of the Senate, including yourself, are fully aware of the consequences for people you have never met, consequences which will last long after your term in office.
*Note: Some newly elected senators do not yet have contact pages, their phone numbers are provided.
Daniel Sullivan 202-224-3004
Cory Gardner 202-224-5941
David Perdue 202-224-3521
Joni Ernst 202-224-3254
Bill Cassidy 202-224-5824
Gary Peters 202-224-6221
Steve Daines 202-224-2651
Ben Sasse 202-224-4224
Thom Tillits 202-224-6342
James Lankford 202-224-5754
Mike Rounds 202-224-5842
Shelley Moore Capito 202-224-6472