Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) spoke to reporters Tuesday after returning from a Thanksgiving visit to service members in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Gillibrand, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, introduced legislation earlier this month called the War Powers Reform Resolution.
“What my bill says is if the president wants to go to war, he has to come to Congress first, get an authorization for the use of military force. That authorization has to be specific to the country, to the mission and to the enemy. And if he wants to stay or she wants to stay at war longer than two years, they have to come back to Congress,” Gillibrand said in a conference call from Washington, D.C.
The proposed bill also seeks to repeal the post-9/11 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) of 2001 and 2002, which Gillibrand said have allowed multiple presidents to deploy American troops to more than 20 countries without Congressional approval.
“We don’t want to see mission creep. We want to make sure if our men and women are going to harm’s way and are making these extraordinary sacrifices, that the American people is behind that mission,” Gillibrand said. “That’s what Congress represents: We are the direct representative of the American people.”
The senator, who withdrew from the 2020 Democratic presidential contest in August, spent the past few days visiting service members in the Middle East—including the 10th Mountain Division and 77th Sustainment Brigade from New York State. Gillibrand also met with a group of women in the Afghan army as part of her trip.
“The brigade is so proud to be from New York,” Gillibrand said of the 77th Sustainment Brigade. “To remind them of home, they travel with a large, person-size Statue of Liberty replica and display it right in front of the barracks.”
Gillibrand said the conversations she has with service members abroad and their families in the U.S. help her better understand the real toll of deployment.
“When our service members deploy, they must have faith that Congress will be supporting not only them but their families back home as well. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for our military service to our great country.”