US lawmakers one step closer to officially ending the wars in Iraq

US lawmakers will take an important step this week toward repealing a decades-old presidential authorization for war, as an effort to restore authority to Congress appears to have gained growing support.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have come to the same conclusion: We need to put the war in Iraq behind us once and for all. And to do that, we need to repeal the legal authority that started the war,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week. passed, appreciating bipartisan efforts.

Lawmakers have made numerous attempts in recent years to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, passed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, giving US presidents broad powers to conduct military operations without the constitutional right of Congress to ratify.

To date, each effort has failed amid criticism that repealing these authorizations endangers US national security and US forces abroad.

In addition to the repeal that authorized the 2003 war in Iraq, legislation under consideration this week in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would also repeal the 1991 authorization that allowed President George Herbert Walker Bush to send forces to Iraq.

“Iraq is a strategic partner of the United States in advancing the security and stability of the Middle East. Unfortunately, under these laws that are still in place, Iraq is still technically an enemy of the United States,” said Republican Senator Todd Young, a supporter of the legislation. “This inconsistency and inaccuracy must be corrected. Congress must do its job and take seriously the decision to not only force America into war, but to say unequivocally that we are no longer at war.”

Presidents of both parties have used the 2002 authorization as justification for military action beyond its original intent. In 2014, Democratic President Barack Obama used the authorization to justify airstrikes without congressional approval against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Republican President Donald Trump used the same authorization in 2020 to justify the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani in Iraq.

A wide range of US lawmakers now support the legislation, arguing that Congress has neglected its constitutional responsibilities for decades. The last time Congress formally used its power to declare war was in 1942 against Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Since that time, Congress has given US presidents broader authority to conduct military operations.

“Congress is responsible for declaring wars and ending them, because decisions as important as whether or not to send our troops into harm’s way require careful discussion and consensus,” said Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, another co-sponsor of the legislation. . “The 1991 and 2002 authorizations are no longer necessary, serve no operational purpose and risk potential misuse.”

Once the legislation passes committee, it will go to a full vote in the Democratic-majority Senate. It is expected to have enough Republican support to pass it.

The Democratic-majority House of Representatives repealed the authorization in 2002 by a vote of 268-161 in June 2021, but the bill failed to pass the Senate. The 2001 authorization for the US war in Afghanistan also remains law, despite previous efforts to repeal it.

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