The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday voted on H.J.Res. 37 to reassert Congressional War Powers in the ongoing war in Yemen—a significant and historic moment in Congress on many levels. The resolution passed 248-177. One Republican’s vote was noticeably and sadly absent—the late Rep. Walter Jones, who passed away on February 10th.
The bill represents the first time in history the House of Representatives has voted to invoke the War Powers Resolution to compel the executive branch to put a stop to unauthorized military engagements in a foreign war. Sadly, Rep. Jones was not there to see the culmination of his most significant work on Capitol Hill—his tireless efforts to show the impact of war.
Following his vote for the Iraq War, a decision he came to regret deeply, he dedicated himself to building the case that Congress has not only the Constitutional responsibility to authorize and oversee war, but also the moral obligation to Americans to do so. By his own estimates, he sent more than 12,000 letters to families who had lost someone in either the Iraq or the Afghanistan Wars. Rep. Jones’ involvement on this issue was more than good politics, or good policy; it was a personal mission. Anyone who spoke with him about the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was aware of his deep grief for lives senselessly lost in the wars. This was not just a political matter for him, one could sense the moral and spiritual urgency to his pain.