House Democrats Defeated in Bid to Change Drone and Use-of-Force Laws

Mike O'Brien

House Appropriations Committee Democrats lost out on Wednesday in their efforts to change two major national security policy issues.

Democratic members offered amendments to the panel’s 2014 Pentagon appropriations bill that would have changed the law used by two presidents to justify more than 20 post-9/11 U.S. military actions.

They also sought to transfer the CIA’s armed drone program to the Defense Department.

Californian Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee wanted to add in a provision that called for the expiration of the post-9/11 authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) resolution in January 2015.

She said the 2001 resolution should be reworked to reflect the changed nature of al-Qaida and the American fight against it. There are too many concerns about the broad nature of how that resolution was written, she added.

Ms. Lee said the current rules allow the executive branch to "wage war at any time, at any place."

She said: "No future president should wage this war with no oversight."

Republicans defeated the Lee amendment, but HAC Defense subcommittee Chairman Bill Young admitted there should be further dialogue on the 2001 resolution.

Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum then tried to introduce an amendment that would hand drone usage in its entirety from the CIA to the military.

Moving the entire program under the military would take away what she described as the CIA’s "lack of accountability, transparency and oversight."

Ms. McCollum’s amendment was defeated with all Republicans and some Democrats voting against it.

Drone usage will be discussed at IDGAS's Homeland Security 2013 event later this year. For ful details, go to