On Thursday the House voted to rescind the nearly 20 year old authorization for use of military force in Iraq, a move that the White House backs and is garnering rapid support in the Senate after enduring two decades of bipartisan opposition since 2002 on the president’s war-waging powers.
Forty-nine Republicans joined ranks with the Democrat coalition to push the bill through, while 160 Republicans chose to reject it. Of 220 Democrat members of Congress, only one, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) voted in opposition to the measure. The bill is now en route to the Senate.
The White House issued a statement earlier in the week, giving official support to the bill on declared grounds that the United States no longer has military operations which are reliant on the 2002 AUMF, and therefore should have “minimal impact” on the military in terms of continuity.
The 2002 AUMF was a special provision used by then-President George W. Bush to lawfully invade Iraq. The new bill would revoke that provision, and is sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The new legislation would restrict the ability of the executive branch to engage in military missions which could potentially drag the U.S. into military quagmires overseas.
A similar effort to repeal the 2002 AUMF failed in 2019, Congress added the item back to the agenda after President Biden authorized airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria as a retaliatory gesture for the militia’s assaults against U.S. personnel in Iraq. Former President Trump also used the 2002 AUMF provision to conduct an airstrike against a target in Iraq in 2020.
Now that the Iraq war has long passed, both Republicans and Democrats are making a joint effort to remove what is seen as a potentially dangerous avenue for U.S. military adventurism in the future.
Ahead of Congress’s Thursday vote, Lee said that the bill was “a long time coming,” and explained that the authorization of use of force is the domain of Congress, not something which should be available as “blank checks” to be used by “any administration” for it’s own purposes.
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who voted against the bill, gave a statement explaining her criticism.
Cheney said that repealing the AUMF without producing a replacement bill is a bad move, one which she called “dangerous” and “misguided”, claiming that it does not account for “the security challenges facing our nation.” She called the 2002 AUMF a “critical tool” that has been used in the past by administrations of both political parties “to defeat terrorist threats.”
Cheney added that removing the AUMF could embolden foreign enemies in the Middle East, and hinder the U.S. military in their efforts to squash rogue enemies as they present themselves in the future.
Author: Jana Carson