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Senate Advances Bipartisan Bill to Repeal 2002 AUMF and End Gulf and Iraq Wars

On March 8, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bipartisan bill that would repeal a pair of authorizations for the use of military force, officially ending the Gulf and Iraq wars.[0] The 13-8 vote in favor of the bill from Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) clears the way for the bill to move to the Senate floor.

The 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress to authorize war against Saddam Hussein’s regime, allowed the president to use the “armed forces as necessary and appropriate” to “defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”[0] Since the conclusion of the Iraq war, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2002 has been abused by both President Obama and President Trump, with nearly no oversight from Congress.[1]

The bill, which has longstanding bipartisan and bicameral support, garnered 51 co-sponsors in the last Congress, including eleven Republicans. In the House, a bill proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee of California was passed by a vote of 268-161, with a number of Republicans supporting the repeal.[1] The Biden administration has also issued an official Statement of Administration Policy in support of repeal.[2]

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, voiced his support for the bipartisan bill and predicted that senators would submit “a number of amendments” prior to the Thursday vote.[3] He added that it is time to “extinguish” the 2002 Iraq AUMF and that he hopes to bring the Kaine-Young bill to the Senate floor before Easter.[2]

The White House has vowed to work with Congress to repeal the two AUMFs, as well as any other “outdated authorizations,” and replace them with a “narrow and specific framework” that would allow the U.S. to still enact some measures to protect against terrorist threats.[4]

Nevertheless, some Republican legislators have declared that they will not agree to abolish the approvals unless a definite substitute is provided.[4] Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee's Republican chairman, said a “piecemeal repeal of those Iraq authorities is not a serious contribution to war powers reform.”[0]

Sen. Tim Kaine told the Washington Examiner at least 65 senators are expected to back the bill, all but guaranteeing its passage in the upper chamber.

0. “US Senate May Finally Repeal Authorization for War on Iraq after 20 Years — Transcontinental Times” Transcontinental Times, 9 Mar. 2023, https://www.transcontinentaltimes.com/us-senate-war-on-iraq-after-20-years/

1. “Commentary: Repeal the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force” Times Union , 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/commentary-repeal-iraq-authorization-use-17836506.php

2. “Bill to Repeal 2002 Iraq War Authorization Advances in Senate” Friends Committee On National Legislation, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.fcnl.org/updates/2023-03/bill-repeal-2002-iraq-war-authorization-advances-senate

3. “Senate to hold key vote on repealing Iraq war authorizations” CBS News, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/senate-iraq-war-aumf-authorization-for-use-of-military-force-vote/

4. “Senate Republicans split over efforts at limiting presidents' power to use military force” Washington Examiner, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/senate/isolationist-republicans-help-revive-efforts-end-iraq-gulf-wars

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