The Senate completed a procedural vote in favor of repealing a pair of authorizations that allowed the President to take military action against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, paving a smooth path for the total revocation of the president’s war powers in Iraq.
Overturning the 1991 Persian Gulf War authorization and the 2002 Iraq War authorizations passed the 60-vote threshold required to overcome the filibuster on Thursday. The bipartisan legislation needs to clear the amendment process at a vote next week, but the bill’s coauthors, Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, expect the legislation to pass, according to Politico.
Efforts to repeal the 2002 and 1991 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) have gathered steam since Kaine and Young first introduced the legislation in 2019.
“The Iraq War has itself been long over. This AUMF outlived its purpose and we can no longer justify keeping it in effect,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of Thursday’s vote, according to CBS News.
A final vote on the legislation could happen as early as next week, nearly 20 years to the day since the U.S. initiated a “shock and awe” campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on March 20, 2003 based in part on fears the regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, CBS News reported.
The White House on Thursday pledged to support the Senate bill overturning the Iraq War and Gulf War authorizations in a statement, noting that the U.S. no longer has ongoing military activities in Iraq that depend on the authorizations.
The repeal “would support this Administration’s commitment to a strong and comprehensive relationship with our Iraqi partners” and would not interfere with the U.S. military’s advise and assist role with Iraqi military to combat terrorism and anti-government forces, the White House said.
Schumer from Senate floor ahead of the first Senate vote on the Iraq War AUMF repeal bill: “While the Iraq War was the cause of so much bitterness in the past, I’m glad that repealing these AUMFs has been a genuinely bipartisan effort.” https://t.co/BGzMBOCS7J pic.twitter.com/yPNEFCutER
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 16, 2023
Proponents of Young and Kaine’s bill say the repeal is necessary to assert Congress’ constitutional power to limit the executive branch’s ability to start military campaigns, The Washington Post reported. Others say repealing the AUMFs without an appropriate replacement strips the Pentagon of a necessary tool for being able to quickly counter threats in the region.
Kaine and Schumer said they expected amendment votes carving out authority for the U.S. to continue defending itself against Iran-backed militias in Iraq, which continue to strike American troops, Politico reported. Other amendments could safeguard the president’s Article II powers.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky may also try to attach an amendment repealing the 2001 AUMF declaring the War on Terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Politico reported.
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