The US Senate has voted to repeal the authorisation for the use of military force in Iraq, two decades after the US-led coalition invaded the country.
In a vote held yesterday in the Senate, 66-30 voted to repeal the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was granted in 2002 and gave former President George W. Bush the authority to launch the invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government the following year.
The potential legislation, which would also repeal the AUMF from 1991 that authorised the Gulf War, would essentially prevent US presidents from ordering attacks on or in Iraq without the express approval of Congress, reasserting its power to authorise the use of American military force abroad.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq, the AUMF has been used for a few other purposes, such as the administration of former President Barack Obama’s airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria over the past decade, as well as former President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in 2020.
New York Senator and Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who was in favour of the repeal, stated on the Senate floor yesterday that the “United States, Iraq, [and] the entire world has changed dramatically since 2002, and it’s time the laws on the books catch up with those changes”. The authorisation resolutions, he insisted, “have outlived their use”.
Others opposed the move, such as Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Republican Senator, Mitch McConnell, who stated on Tuesday that “our terrorist enemies aren’t sunsetting their war against us.”
Having initially passed the Democratic-led House in 2021, the repeal – supported by the administration of President Joe Biden – is reportedly set to go back to the House, now under the control of the Republican Party, of which many are uncertain it will be passed again.
Those concerned that the repeal of the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs will drastically limit the US military’s ability to conduct operations abroad and in the Middle East, however, can reportedly find comfort in the fact that the AUMF from 2001 – which began the two-decades-long ‘war on terror’ – will remain in place. That authorisation is seen as a broader resolution which will continue to be sufficient for Washington to carry out its desired military operations abroad.