Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on March 14 on a bill that would repeal the 2002 and 1991 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs).
This comes as the 20th anniversary of the March 19, 2003, invasion of Iraq approaches.
The 2002 AUMF allowed the U.S. military to go into Iraq following reports that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The United States captured him in 2003 and he was executed in Iraq in 2006. The 1991 AUMF allowed U.S. forces to enter the Gulf War, where Hussein’s forces were driven out of Kuwait.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), to the full Senate on March 8.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, applauded the vote.
“AUMFs are the most solemn responsibility of this Committee, and our duty is not just to pass them, but to exercise vigilance as to how they are used and assess when it is time to declare them obsolete,” he said in a statement.
“Today’s vote asserts the congressional prerogative to determine how administrations—current and future ones—justify the use of military force,” he continued. “These two AUMFs are outdated, do not address current threats to U.S. interests, and should not be used to justify large-scale use of military force. Their repeal is in the U.S. national interest, and in the interest of our strategic partnership with Iraq and the region.”
Schumer lauded the advancement of the bill.
“This Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reached an agreement to move forward on the repeal of the Iraq AUMF. We need to put the Iraq war behind us once and for all. And doing that means we should repeal the legal authority that initiated the war to begin with,” Schumer posted on Twitter. He voted for the 2002 AUMF and against the 1991 AUMF.
Ahead of his filing cloture, Schumer noted that President Joe Biden has “voiced support for the measure.” He lamented that the longer the AUMFs are on the books, the more opportunities there are for presidential administrations to abuse them. Schumer noted that the repeals would give Congress back the power to declare war.
A vote to advance the bill could come as early as Thursday. Sixty votes are required.
However, while the bipartisan measure is likely to end up passing the Democrat-controlled Senate, its fate in the GOP-controlled House has to be determined. Last week, the House rejected a measure introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that would have required the president to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
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