FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 26, 2023
Contact: Press_Paul@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
Dr. Rand Paul to Force Senate Vote on War Powers Resolution Concerning U.S. Troops Stationed in Niger Amidst Military Coup
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, as a continuation of his efforts to return war powers to Congress, and to address the deteriorating political situation and increased risk to U.S. troops in Niger, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will force the U.S. Senate to vote on his War Powers Resolution (S.J.Res.44). His resolution directs the President to remove all U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in Niger within 30 days of its enactment.
“Congress must cease abdicating its constitutional war powers to the executive branch,” said Dr. Paul. “We must be courageous enough to debate if America’s national interest in Niger is of such vital importance that we ask our young men and women to fight and potentially pay the ultimate sacrifice for it.”
Since at least 2013, U.S. troops have been deployed to Niger and have engaged in direct combat with hostile forces without proper congressional authorization. Tragically, four U.S. servicemembers, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, Sergeant La David Johnson, and Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, lost their lives in 2017 when they were ambushed while on a mission near the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger.
The Biden Administration continues to cite the 9/11 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was narrowly tailored to bring justice to those who played a role in the 2001 terrorist attacks, to justify the presence of approximately 1,016 U.S. troops in Niger.
Dr. Paul is expected to speak on the Senate floor at around 10:55 a.m. ET, you can watch his remarks HERE.
You can read the full text of the Niger War Powers Resolution HERE.
“Congress has never authorized war in Niger. And yet, the United States has over 1,000 troops there, who continue to be put in harm’s way – a situation made all the more perilous with the recent coup. The Friends Committee on National Legislation applauds Senator Paul’s War Powers Resolution to require the removal of U.S. forces from hostilities in Niger. As a Quaker organization, we seek a world free of war and the threat of war. After more than 20 years of fighting and the deaths of over 432,000 civilians and 7,052 U.S. servicemembers, we must change course from this failed militarized response and towards a more sustainable, rights-respecting approach to counterterrorism and national security. Senator Paul’s resolution is a critical step to help set the United States on this long-overdue path,” said Heather Brandon-Smith, Deputy Director for Foreign Policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation.
“As I wrote earlier, the borderlands of West-Central Africa are in the grey zones between the already volatile North Africa, which has been destabilized mostly by Western interventions, especially the toppling of Gaddafi and the wrecking of a stable order, and subsequently by the Arab Spring fueled jihadism, and the poor southern sub-Saharan Africa. Francafrique is a French sphere of influence; the clue is in the name,” said Dr. Sumantra Maitra, Senior Fellow at the Center for Renewing America and Senior Editor of the American Conservative. “While France’s and Europe’s considerations in Africa are different, there is no warrant for an American adventure in Niger. The core American interest for a direct intervention or troop presence is, therefore, nil. To that cause, Senator Paul’s resolution is key in removing American troops from the region.”
“The best time for Congress to specifically debate and decide whether to commit U.S. forces to potentially die in Niger would have been before they were deployed there. Since that did not happen, it is now especially urgent amidst the deepening conflict and chaos in the region. Sen. Paul’s leadership in calling the question is critical at this moment,” said Elizabeth Beavers, Vice President for Public Affairs at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
“None of the Members of Congress who voted to authorize military action in response to the September 11th attacks could have fathomed that it would be cited as justification for U.S. bases and hostilities in unrelated countries like Niger more than 22 years later,” said Erik Sperling, Executive Director of Just Foreign Policy. “Senator Paul is right to lead his colleagues in a debate and vote on this blatant violation of Congress’s war powers. Scrutiny of the unauthorized U.S. involvement in Niger is particularly warranted, as administration officials including Victoria Nuland seek to sidestep existing U.S. pro-democracy laws that prohibit U.S. cooperation with coup regimes like the military junta in Niger.”
“U.S. military actions in Niger lack proper rationales, oversight, and authorizations, and Defense Priorities Initiative supports any efforts by Congress to reclaim its constitutional prerogatives over the use of force in Niger and elsewhere,” said Tucker Kass, Outreach Manager and Non-Resident Fellow Program Manager at Defense Priorities Initiative.
“Senator Rand Paul’s S.J. Res. 44 Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Niger that have not been authorized by Congress is at its core an attempt to get us back to a constitutional government. Our Constitution clearly provides that while the President is the Commander in Chief, the power to declare war and commit U.S. troops to a foreign conflict is reserved to the U.S. Congress. Since Congress has made no declaration of war or any specific authorization for the involvement of U.S. Armed Forces in an armed conflict in Niger, it is time for the troops to be recalled and return home. Alternatively, Congress can authorize troops, but the Biden Administration hasn’t even requested such an authorization. The decision to go to war is Congress’s sole responsibility, as mandated by the Constitution. Using the 2001 AUMF for action in Niger, two decades later, circumvents Congress’s vital role, undermining the separation of powers and proper oversight. We either need to authorize the military action in the U.S. Congress or we need to bring those troops home. Senator Paul is correct to bring this issue to our attention,” said George Landrith, President of Frontiers of Freedom. “If the conflict in Niger isn’t important enough to the Administration to even seek a Congressional authorization, it is clear that our troops don’t need to be there and their decade-long deployment violates our Constitution and our law.”
Heritage Action for America also supports Dr. Paul’s War Powers Resolution.
Recently, Dr. Paul sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demanding answers regarding U.S. troops deployed in Niger. The U.S. military has been present in Niger for about a decade, with the aim of providing training, guidance, and assistance to Nigerian forces. However, Moussa Salaou Barmou, who had received training from the U.S., was part of the group that carried out a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government on July 26, 2023.
Since its passage, administrations of both parties have used the 2001 AUMF to justify acts of war in over 20 countries, from Afghanistan to Libya, to Somalia, to Yemen and now Niger. By not repealing the 2001 AUMF, any President alone has the ability to decide where and when to engage in hostilities without congressional approval.
Dr. Paul has consistently fought to return and keep war powers in Congress as our Founding Fathers intended. In March, the Senate took a step in the right direction and repealed the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs. Dr. Paul introduced an amendment to the effort that would have additionally repealed the 2001 AUMF – the final vote tally of his amendment was 9-86.