US Senate votes to repeal authorizations of use of force against Iraq

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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

US Senator Tim Kaine speaking on the Senate floor before the final vote.
Image: C-SPAN.

On March 29, the US Senate voted 66–30 for a repeal of the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force (AUMFs). The 1991 AUMF authorized the Gulf War and the 2002 AUMF the Iraq War.

The Associated Press and NPR described proponents as arguing the bill will return the authority of starting wars to the US Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York State Democrat, said: "The American people are tired of endless wars in the Middle East."

US Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, and Bridget Moix, Friends Committee on National Legislation general secretary, wrote in CNN March 18: "[B]y allowing the authorization to remain on the books, lawmakers in Congress are also abdicating a core constitutional responsibility. Our nation’s founders vested Congress with the sole power to decide when and where our country goes to war, and this power was granted for good reason: They knew that in a democratic system of checks and balances, no one person should have unilateral say over matters of war and peace."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, however, said: "Our terrorist enemies aren't sunsetting their war against us. When we deploy our servicemembers in harm's way, we need to supply them with all the support and legal authorities that we can."

Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, told Insider: "The world continues to be a troubled place, and I don't want to remove any of the authorities that have been, or may be, relied upon to defend our interests."

The House of Representatives referred H.R. 932, an identical bill there, to its Committee on Foreign Affairs. According to procedure, the committee would conduct further research, debate the bill, and vote on approving it for a House-wide vote.