Senate votes to repeal Iraq War authorizations

 March 17, 2023

The Senate voted Thursday to restrict the president's war powers on the eve of the 20-year anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A procedural move to repeal authorizations of military force in Iraq passed in a 68-27 vote. A final vote on the measure could come next week.

The measure would repeal the 1991 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), which was used during the Gulf War, as well as the 2002 AUMF that preceded Operation Iraqi Freedom under President George W. Bush.

Senate votes to end war

The bill's proponents say it's a rebuke of presidents waging "endless war" without authority from Congress.

“How dare we as Congress not have an urge to simply say after 20 years this war is over, the job is done,” the bill's lead Democratic sponsor, Tim Kaine (Va.), said. “We owe it to our servicemembers to fulfill our constitutional obligations and vote to end endless wars.”

This coming Monday marks 20 years since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the swift overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime followed by years of conflict with insurgents. President Obama withdrew from Iraq in 2011, only to send forces back to battle ISIS.

Proponents say the AUMFs are outdated and do not reflect Iraq's status as a "strategic partner" of the U.S. against Iran and terror groups like ISIS.

“Let us be clear: Saddam Hussein is dead,” Republican lead sponsor Senator Todd Young (In.) said. "And we’re no longer worried about the threat by Iraq.”

Moving Ukraine

When the AUMF passed in 2002, it received overwhelming support from President Bush's Republican party. The GOP has moved in a more isolationist direction since 2016, when President Trump rose to power and rebuked the Iraq War as a mistake.

All 27 "no" votes to repeal the Iraq AUMFs Thursday were from Republicans, although 17 Republicans voted with Democrats to repeal.

A separate 2001 AUMF that passed overwhelmingly following the September 11 attacks remains on the books.

President Biden has said he supports replacing "outdated authorizations" with a "narrow and specific framework more appropriate to protecting Americans from modern terrorist threats."

Democrats, who opposed the Iraq War years ago, have overwhelmingly supported Biden's open-ended commitment to Ukraine in its war with Russia. Opposition to involvement in Ukraine has mostly come from "America First" Republicans, who say the U.S. is being drawn into a dangerous proxy war.

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