Congress One Step Closer to Ending the US War in Iraq

Washington, DC (VOA) —

Members of the US Congress took a key step Wednesday to revoke the president’s decades-old right to declare war, as support grows for efforts to reaffirm Congress’ role in the matter.

By thirteen to eight votes, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the proposed repeal of the 1991 and 2002 use of force authorization (AUMF), which would have formally ended the Gulf and Iraq wars.

“These two AUMFs are out of date, do not address current threats to US interests and should not be used to justify large-scale use of military force. Both withdrawals are consistent with the national interests of the United States and the national interests of our strategic partnership with Iraq and the region,” said US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez in a statement.

In recent years, members of Congress have sought to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs enacted following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, thus giving the US president broad powers to conduct military operations without requiring Congress’ constitutional right to give approval.

Until now, those attempts have failed due to criticism that lifting the authorization could harm US national security and US troops abroad.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have agreed on the conclusion that we must end the Iraq war. To do that, we have to revoke the powers of the law that started that war in the first place,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor last week, applauding the agency’s bipartisan efforts.

As well as repealing the AUMF that authorized the 2003 Iraq war, the bill being discussed in the Senate foreign relations committee would also revoke the 1991 AUMF that gave President George Herbert Walker Bush the authority to send troops to Iraq.

“Iraq is a strategic partner of the United States for advancing security and stability in the Middle East. Unfortunately, according to this law that is still in force, Iraq is still an enemy of the United States,” Republican Senator Todd Young, a proponent of the legislation, said in a statement. “These inconsistencies and inaccuracies must be corrected. Congress must do its job and take seriously the decision to not only send America into war, but also affirmatively declare that we are no longer at war.”

Both Democratic and Republican presidents have used the 2002 AUMF to justify military action beyond its original intent. In 2014, Democratic President Barack Obama used the AUMF to justify airstrikes without congressional approval against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. Republican President Donald Trump used the same AUMF in 2020 to authorize the airstrike that killed the Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, in Iraq.

A growing number of members of the US Congress are now supporting the legislation, arguing that Congress has neglected this responsibility for decades. The last time Congress formally used its powers to declare war was in 1942 against Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Since then, the US Congress has given the US president greater powers to conduct military operations.

A vote on the bill is likely to take place next week on the floor of the Democratic-majority US Senate. [rd/lt]

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