House to Repeal 2002 Iraq War Auth. 06/17 06:20
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Democratic-led House, with the backing of President
Joe Biden, is expected to approve legislation to repeal the 2002 authorization
for use of military force in Iraq, a step supporters say is necessary to
constrain presidential war powers even though it is unlikely to affect U.S.
military operations around the world.
A vote on Thursday would come one day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck
Schumer said he intends to bring repeal legislation to the Senate floor this
"The Iraq War has been over for nearly a decade," Schumer said. "The
authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021."
The White House said in a statement that it supports the House bill and
stressed that no ongoing military activities are reliant upon the 2002
The growing momentum behind the repeal measure follows years of debate over
whether Congress has ceded too much of its war-making authority to the White
House. Many lawmakers, particularly Democrats, say passage of the 2002
authorization, or AUMF, was a mistake, and some Republicans agree the authority
should be taken off the books. Some lawmakers say the 2001 resolution to fight
terrorism, passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, should be reexamined as well.
"Once we pass a repeal of the 2002 AUMF, we must keep up our fight to repeal
the 2001 AUMF so that no future president has the unilateral power to plunge us
into endless wars," said the House bill's sponsor, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
Schumer said he wanted to be clear that legislation terminating the use of
force in Iraq does not mean the U.S. is abandoning the country and the shared
fight against the Islamic State group. He said the measure would eliminate the
possibility of a future administration "reaching backing into the legal dustbin
to use it as a justification for military adventurism."
He cited the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Iranian Gen.
Qassim Soleimani in January 2020 as an example.
The Trump administration said Soleimani was plotting a series of attacks
that endangered many American troops and officials across the Middle East. The
national security adviser at the time, Robert O'Brien, told reporters that
President Donald Trump exercised America's right to self-defense and that the
strike was a fully authorized action under the 2002 authorization to use
"There is no good reason to allow this legal authority to persist in case
another reckless commander in chief tries the same trick in the future,"
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said Wednesday in a joint statement with Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and
Todd Young, R-Ind., that the committee would take up legislation to repeal not
only the 2002 authorization, but also the 1991 authorization for use of force
in Iraq, which remains on the books.
The 1991 authorization gave President George H.W. Bush the authority to use
force against Iraq to enforce a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions
passed in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The 2002 authorization was
directed against the Saddam Hussein regime as "necessary and appropriate" to
"defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and
to "enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
"Repealing the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs will also send a clear diplomatic signal
that the United States is no longer an adversary of Iraq, but a partner," Young
The Senate and House would have to work out any differences in their bills
and vote on a final product before it can go to Biden's desk to be signed into
In the end, legislation terminating the 2002 authorization will need 60
votes in an evenly divided Senate to overcome any procedural hurdles. Sen.
James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services
Committee, said he opposes the effort to terminate the authorization.
"We used it to get Soleimani and there might be another Soleimani out
there," Inhofe said.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas will speak against the House bill
Thursday. He said a serious reform effort, "which we all agree is needed,"
would have included discussions with national security leaders and a
replacement to address the evolving war on terrorism.
"Democrats are playing politics with national security in an effort to taint
one of President Trump's biggest national security successes," said McCaul, the
lead Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.