Washington — A few days after the September 11 attack, Congressman Barbara Lee takes a lonely position as the only member of Congress, votes against the invasion of Afghanistan, and gives the president such widespread authority. It warned that it would put the country into a lasting war.
For years after the vote, California Democrat Lee remained a lonely man in a seemingly bizarre quest to overwhelm the vast war authorities his colleagues unanimously gave to the president. I made a tireless effort.
Twenty years later, Lee is no longer alone.
Tired of the ongoing conflict abroad, lawmakers and voters of both parties were abused by the presidents of both parties to wage war far beyond what Congress had previously intended. I approached Mr. Lee’s view.
Major parliamentary committees have voted in line with bipartisan policy for the past two years to abolish the 2001 law. And for the first time, there is a real path to abolishing the 2002 approval for the invasion of Iraq. Forty-nine House Republicans joined almost all Democrats and approved its abolition in June, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the bill last month.
Now, as legislative momentum seemed to be behind Mr Lee, her mission faces new challenges: Congressional desire to revisit decades-old approval is by lawmakers Biden. Whether the outcome of the administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan can be retained even when hesitating. The chaotic departure has raised new concerns about the resurgence of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS-K.
“I want you to understand that parliamentarians can’t miss action and give money to the president,” Lee said in an interview.
But, as Lee knows, it’s the posture her colleagues have been comfortable with for nearly 20 years. Parliament has not voted for new approval of military power or reduction of existing military power since 2002, when lawmakers empowered President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.
Since then, the presidents of both parties have called on war authorities in 2002 and 2001 to justify military power in many other places and have expanded the law to justify free wars around the world. bottom.
It was a scenario she was afraid of when she voted against the 60-word resolution in 2001, three days after she and her colleagues evacuated the Capitol on September 11.
That day, on the house floor, Republicans and Democrats pledged to destroy the terrorists who planned the attack and unite in support of Mr. Bush in a speech that alternated between lofty and angry, speaking in one rebellious voice. Did. Republicans predicted that the law would be unanimously passed and said the statement of unity would give him great comfort.
Then Lee stood up and talked.
“No matter how difficult this vote may be, some of us must encourage the use of restraints,” she said. “Our country is in mourning. Some of us have to say, let’s step back a little. Let’s stop for a moment and think about the implications of our actions today. That way, this won’t go out of control. “
In the end, 518 lawmakers, including the Senate, voted in favor of the resolution. Only Lee objected.
Lee, 75, the daughter of a former lieutenant colonel who fought in World War II in South Korea, has long claimed that she is not a pacifist. When she pondered the vote, she said she was a background in psychiatric social work, learning the importance of never making decisions in the heat of emotions and helping her make a decision. ..
Her stance was soon hit by a fierce backlash. Some of Lee’s closest colleagues in Congress remembered at first thinking she had voted incorrectly. When they learned that she had deliberately opposed the resolution, they urged her to change her position and warned her that she would be voted absent unless she did so.
Outside of Washington, voters angry at her position accused Lee of harassing emails and threats of murder, and aides remembered until she needed security details.
But she remained unwavering. In 2003, Lee introduced an amendment requiring research to determine whether intelligence agencies withheld or manipulated information from the UN weapons inspectors that formed the basis of the country’s invasion of Iraq. bottom. We got 185 votes and 33 votes.
So Lee found another opening to push this issue and introduced the same fix to abolish the power authorization on September 11th each year, forcing her colleagues to keep a record. .. Behind the scenes, she hit a buttonhole on members of both parties and collected votes when she insisted.
“At every stage, I could have a few more members to sit and talk to,” Lee said. “We’re just scraping it. This is a marathon.”
A milestone happened in 2017 when the Republican-led House Expenditure Committee resolved to abolish 2001 approval.
“You’re making converts here and there, Mr. Lee,” said Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican and then chairman of New Jersey. “Sure, you’ve been incredibly tenacious and tenacious on this issue for years. I think we’re aware of you, and obviously you have a companion in the room. We share your concerns. “
Paul D. Ryan, then speaker, unilaterally removed it from the larger spending bill, essentially killing the abolition. However, the effort has revealed growing support among conservatives to end military conflicts abroad, reflecting an important pledge by President Donald J. Trump.
Indeed, some of Lee’s most enthusiastic supporters of her Crusades were unlikely allies, including the Great Conservatives of HouseFreedom Caucus.
“It’s more difficult now,” she said. “It’s a very difficult moment to talk to people who don’t believe it and try to work with them.” The election was legal.
Lee, who now heads the House Expenditure Committee, which oversees diplomacy, said he was shocked to see Republicans working on abolition efforts to turn on President Biden after withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. ..
“They were silent or very critical of the withdrawal, even Republicans who supported it when Trump announced the date of the withdrawal,” she said. “So it’s very shocking to see them trying to recreate history now.”
The whiplash, coupled with long-standing criticisms of Taka’s voice from both parties, could hamper ongoing efforts in the Senate to abolish 2002 approval.
At a hearing in Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney advised Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken before the Biden administration would withdraw approval in cooperation with the president. Proposed to “reconsider”.
Blinken replied that al-Qaeda or ISIS-K “must ensure that they have all the necessary privileges for potential contingencies, including their re-emergence as a threat.” “If we don’t have those authorities, we need to get them, whether that means revisiting their approvals or writing new ones. I think this is the most appropriate thing to do as needed. “
So far, polls show that ending military conflicts abroad remains very popular with voters. And activists in favor of the abolition, which has been its own whipping at Capitol Hill, say there was little evidence to suggest that their efforts could be shattered.
“I don’t think it’s stopping people from wanting to say.” Well, wait a minute. The United States really needs to be involved in all of this …