"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
"Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force—commonly called the AUMF—has provided a strong legal basis for our counterterrorism efforts around the world.
"It has been used by the Supreme Court as a primary justification for its rulings permitting the holding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the military detention of American citizens who have joined al-Qaeda.
"There is also consensus among the three branches of government that the AUMF continues to provide adequate authorization for military force against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
"After years of court battles and rigorous debate here in Congress, I believe many would argue that the AUMF has been, and continues to be, an effective tool in our efforts to keep Americans safe.
"As then-General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Jeh Johnson, said in 2012: '[t]en years later, the AUMF remains on the books, and it is still a viable authorization today.' I agree with him.
"That is why I’m greatly concerned that changes to the AUMF could have significant unintended consequences and undermine our counterterrorism efforts.
"As this committee has heard from our most distinguished military and civilian leaders in recent months, Al-Qaeda continues to prove resilient. They are expanding their areas of operation in places like North Africa and the Middle East and remain intent on attacking Americans.
"I know there are members that feel the way that I do – that the AUMF is an important resource and we need to at least maintain this baseline authority, which underpins our ability to keep America safe. Because I know they value this resource, I look forward to hearing arguments regarding potential revision.
"However, I am mindful that no one can predict with certainty the end result of the legislative process. And there are members who might see this as an opportunity to pursue their individual agendas and try to take away the Executive Branch’s ability to prosecute the war against members of al Qaeda or its affiliates. So with that context I look forward to hearing our panel members.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman."