Every president since George W. Bush has cited the same 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to carry out anti-terror operations in other countries and Congress has never changed the law.
The White House told the press this morning that President Biden intends to push for a new AUMF that will finally replace the 20-year-old law.
President Joe Biden intends to work with Congress to repeal the war authorizations that have underpinned U.S. military operations across the globe for the past two decades and negotiate a new one that reins in the open-ended nature of America’s foreign wars, the White House said Friday.
In a statement to POLITICO, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president wants 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.”
This new commitment to change apparently comes in response to bipartisan congressional disapproval of a recent retaliatory strike against an Iranian-backed militia Syria. We don't know enough about that attack for me to personally say it was wrong, but I can say I'm not impressed by rumblings from Congress.
President Obama also asked Congress pass a new AUMF to replace the original from 2001 they never did. He asked them to draft a new AUMF at the onset of the region-wide campaign against the so-called Islamic State or ISIS and members of Congress never even voted on one. You may recall that some Republicans in Congress actually speculated that President Obama would use a new AUMF to help ISIS.
If the White House and Congress pass a new AUMF within the next two to four years, I think that would be good. But I don't expect to see it happen. It's very easy to criticize and more difficult to actually draft and vote on something.
Trump never even flirted with the idea of passing a new AUMF. He cited the original law to expand operations in other parts of the world and particularly in Africa. Trump also launched more drone strikes that President Obama and reduced transparency. He was never a dove.