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Senate inks repeal of Iraq War approval

If both houses of Congress agree to roll back the 2002 war authorization, President Biden has said he will sign.

WASHINGTON (CN) — In a major step toward what would be a symbolic rejection of Congress’ decades-old approval of the Iraq War, the Senate Wednesday voted to repeal two bills authorizing military action against Baghdad.

The upper chamber approved the bill from Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in a bipartisan 66-30 vote. If signed into law, it would roll back Congress’ 2002 authorization for the use of military force that gave the Bush administration the green light to invade Iraq.

A separate AUMF, the military force authorization that led to the 1991 Gulf War, would also be undone by the same bill.

Despite the bipartisan character of Kaine’s bill, several Senate Republicans offered amendments last week aimed at softening the AUMF repeals. One alteration proposed by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham would have reframed the 2002 military force authorization by restricting operations in Iraq to target Iran-backed militia groups. The senator’s amendment failed on a 36-60 vote Wednesday evening.

Some opponents of the AUMF repeal bill have suggested that walking back such authorizations could project U.S. weakness to adversaries in the region, such as Iran.

Proponents of such an action, however, have positioned it as a restriction on presidential powers, preventing the chief executive from abusing their war powers.

“One of Congress’ most solemn duties is deciding when and how we send Americans into combat,” Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and retired U.S. National Guard colonel, said during floor debate Wednesday. “Lately, too many in these halls have shrugged off that duty, hiding behind outrageously outdated AUMFs. Congress has shirked its responsibility to our troops, stretching and skewing the original intent of these documents.”

President Biden has said that he would sign the AUMF repeal if it passes the House. His administration has said that walking back Congress’ support for the Iraq invasion would have no effect on Washington’s ongoing cooperation with Baghdad and the Iraqi security forces.

Indeed, repealing the 1991 and 2002 AUMF would be largely symbolic. No U.S. military activity conducted in Iraq today is predicated on legal authority granted under either piece of legislation.

March 20 marked the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Categories:Government, National, Politics

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