Senate passes bill to repeal Iraq War authorizations

The bill now goes to the GOP-controlled House

Senate passes bill to repeal Iraq War authorizations

Photo by PartTime Portraits / Unsplash

The Senate has passed a bill that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Iraq war authorizations with a vote of 66-30. The first authorization allowed the United States to enter the Gulf War, while the second allowed the U.S. military to go into Iraq following reports that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The final vote, which only needed a simple majority, comes after the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected amendments offered by GOP senators. The amendments needed 60 votes for adoption.

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including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have said that the 1991 and 2002 authorizations need to be repealed so that future administrations don’t abuse them. It is Congress that has the authority to declare war in accordance with Article I of the Constitution.

According to The Epoch Times, the 1991 and 2002 authorizations have been used as legal justifications for military action in the region beyond the time period originally intended. The 1991 authorization was used by the Obama administration for the military intervention against ISIS, which began in 2014.

The 2002 authorization was used by the Trump administration to justify the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.

The Trump administration's action was criticized by many in Congress and led to a debate over the power of the president to order military action without prior approval from Congress. The House of Representatives passed a resolution in January 2020 to limit Trump's ability to take military action against Iran without prior congressional approval.

The bill, which has been supported by President Joe Biden, has now been passed to the GOP-controlled House. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on March 21 he has no objection to the bill, stating, "I’m into it. I don’t have a problem repealing that."

However, McCarthy did not say if and when he would bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. The speaker remarked that he wants the 2001 authorization, which allows the United States to go after those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, to not be repealed.

"I still want to take actions if there are terrorists anywhere around the world," McCarthy said. "If we’re keeping that one AUMF and removing another one, that’s personally where I am."

The Biden administration has stated that the repeal of the authorizations would have no impact on current U.S. military operations and would support the administration’s commitment to a strong and comprehensive relationship with Iraq.

The administration also 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."

If the bill passes the House, it will mark a significant shift in the country's approach to military engagement in the Middle East, giving Congress more control over any future military action.