Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., were among the first members of Congress to sign a new pledge vowing to end America's "forever wars."
"The United States has been in a state of continuous, global, open-ended military conflict since 2001," reads the pledge, which the veterans group Common Defense launched on Monday. "Over 2.5 million troops have fought in this 'Forever War' in over a dozen countries — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Somalia, and Thailand."
The five other lawmakers who joined Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders and Warren as the first supporters of the "End the Forever War" pledge were: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
"I pledge to the people of the United States of America, and to our military community in particular, that I will (1) fight to reclaim Congress's constitutional authority to conduct oversight of U.S. foreign policy and independently debate whether to authorize each new use of military force, and (2) act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion," the document states.
The "End the Forever War" effort was started by Common Defense, an advocacy group comprised of veterans and military families committed to drawing down America's perpetual overseas conflicts, which have inflicted untold damage and taken countless lives throughout the world. Common Defense has more than 150,000 supporters across all 50 states, according to the organization's website.
In what The Intercept described as a "first-of-its kind lobbying effort," Common Defense organizers traveled to Capitol Hill last week to urge lawmakers to sign on and commit to fundamentally transforming U.S. foreign policy.
"We're watching Trump destabilize entire regions," Alexander McCoy, political director for Common Defense, said in an interview with The Intercept. "We're watching our friends who we served with now on their eighth and ninth deployments. We're seeing our kids now will be old enough to enlist and having to have hard conversations about that."
Omar, one of the members of Congress who spoke with veterans from Common Defense last week, said the meeting was "emotional."
"War has been so much a part of the American culture. It's so normalized," Omar, a refugee from war-torn Somalia, told The Intercept. "We only talk about vets when we talk about the kind of resources they need; we never really have a conversation with vets on what defense should look like, and where our engagements are appropriate and when they're not. And the ones we often talk to are people who might have led and might not be the ones getting shot at every day."
The launch of the new pledge comes just weeks after the House of Representatives took the historic step of approving a War Powers resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition's assault on Yemen, which has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
"Congress must reassert its constitutional authority over the use of force and responsibly end these interventions," Sen. Sanders, who is leading the Senate effort to end U.S. complicity in Yemen, said in a tweet expressing support for the pledge. "American troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years, Iraq since 2003 and in Syria since 2015. The American people do not want endless war."