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Remarks from Congresswoman Sara Jacobs on Committee Vote to Repeal 2002 Iraq War AUMF

Jacobs: I was in middle school when this Authorization for Use of Military Force was approved, and today, as a Member of Congress, I will vote to repeal it.

Washington, D.C., March 25, 2021 | Karla Alvarado (202-821-2240)

Today, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed H.R. 256, legislation to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Passed in October of 2002, the AUMF provided the congressional authority for the Iraq War and has remained active for the last nineteen years. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) voted for the repeal legislation.  

Congresswoman Jacobs is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services Committee. She is the third youngest Member of Congress and was in middle school when the 2002 AUMF was put in place. 

Congresswoman Jacobs remarks during the committee markup were as follows (video here)

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to first thank you for making this repeal a priority and for bringing this legislation forward so early in this session. The legislation you have prioritized for this committee over the past two months will undoubtedly improve the lives of millions of Americans, our diplomats and servicemembers, and people around the world.

I also want to recognize and thank Congresswoman Barbara Lee for authoring this bill and for her enduring commitment to a responsible and just American foreign policy, and reasserting Congress’s role in it.

I was in middle school when this Authorization for Use of Military Force was approved, and today, as a member of Congress, I will vote to repeal it.

I emphasize this because my generation has grown up in the shadow of America’s protracted wars, and San Diego, the community I am proud to represent, is home to servicemembers, veterans, and military families who understand better than most the human impact of our foreign policy and our decisions to go to war.

To my constituents, the issues of war and peace, of whether we send their loved ones into harm’s way, are kitchen table issues. And Congress has abrogated that responsibility for too long.

I often wonder whether the Members of Congress who voted in favor of the 2002 AUMF had any idea of the impact that vote would have on a generation of Americans – but the reality is I may never know, because many of them have long since retired.

This AUMF outlasted even them.

In fact, on this distinguished committee, only 6 of our 51 members were in office in 2002.

And as just one young American whose life was shaped by the decisions made by this body nineteen years ago, I want to especially thank you, Mr. Chair, for being the last remaining member of this committee to have voted no.

Today, we have a chance to, at last, turn the page. 

This repeal is an important first step in reasserting Congress’s rightful and primary role in authorizing war. 

And to my colleague Mr. Mast’s concerns, I want to thank you for your service to this country. But it’s not the military generals, nor the President, nor any professor’s job to tell us what to do. The principle of civilian control of the military places ultimate authority over U.S. Armed Services in the hands of civilian leadership. This decision is ours and ours alone. 

And as we have heard from so many others, there is not a single operation that would be impacted by this decision. 

With that, I am proud to vote for this repeal, and I want to thank my colleagues and staff who have worked toward this day for years. 

Let this vote mark a new chapter in American foreign policy and in Congress’s role in it.