By Jackson Richman
The Senate voted on March 21 to advance a repeal of two U.S. authorizations for military action against Iraq.
The upper congressional chamber voted on the motion, 67-28, to begin debate on a bill that would undo the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs).
The first authorization allowed the United States to enter the Gulf War, during which Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces were driven out of Kuwait. The second allowed the U.S. military to go into Iraq following reports that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The United States captured him in 2003 and he was executed in Iraq in 2006.
The procedural vote, which required a simple majority, comes two days after the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The Senate voted, 68–27, on March 16 to invoke cloture, which limits debate on a bill to 30 hours, thereby getting past the necessary 60-vote threshold needed to avoid or end a filibuster.
With the Senate voting to begin debate, amendments can be offered for the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have said that the 1991 and 2002 authorizations need to be repealed so that future administrations don’t abuse them in that it is Congress that has the authority to declare war in accordance with Article I of the Constitution.
White House Support
President Joe Biden supports repealing the AUMFs, according to a statement from the White House.
The administration noted that “the United States conducts no ongoing military activities that rely primarily on the 2002 AUMF, and no ongoing military activities that rely on the 1991 AUMF, as a domestic legal basis.
“Repeal of these authorizations would have no impact on current U.S. military operations and would support this Administration’s commitment to a strong and comprehensive relationship with our Iraqi partners. That partnership, which includes cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces, continues at the invitation of the Government of Iraq in an advise, assist, and enable role.”
Following final passage of the bill in the Democrat-controlled Senate, expected this week, the measure would go to the GOP-controlled House. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on March 21 he has no objection to the bill.
“I’m into it,” he said at a press conference. “I don’t have a problem repealing that.”
McCarthy did not say if and when he would bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.
McCarthy remarked that he wants the 2001 AUMF, which allows the United States to go after those responsible for 9/11, to not be repealed.
“I was not here to vote on either of the creation of those, but you’re 20 years into this now,” said McCarthy, who has been in Congress since 2007. “I still want to take actions if there are terrorists anywhere around the world. If we’re keeping that one AUMF and removing another one, that’s personally where I am.”
However, Kaine told The Epoch Times on March 16 that the Senate needs to move to address the 2001 authorization, though he does not support a full repeal.
When it comes to what would be in a revised 2001 AUMF, he said it “depends on who you ask,” but his position is “a more precise definition of the enemy” in that the initial definition is “vague.”
Kaine noted that the AUMF has been used against forces that weren’t behind 9/11. He said that while those groups may be adversaries of the United States, the AUMF has been used “beyond what was originally intended.”
The 2001 AUMF states “that the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”