The Senate voted Wednesday 66-30 to repeal a pair of resolutions allowing the president to conduct military operations against Iraq, marking the first time in half a century Congress has rescinded the president’s war authorizations.
Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia first introduced legislation overturning the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) for the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War in 2019. Although no ongoing military campaigns rely on the two authorizations, proponents of the repeal say it serves as a significant step in reasserting Congress’ authority and reining in the president’s war powers.
“It’s been long past time for Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty in matters of where, when, and why we send American troops to sacrifice in defense of our country,” Russ Duerstine, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said in a statement. “Repealing these AUMFs also removes the possibility that they might be abused in the future to take America to war again without congressional approval.”
Detractors have warned that repealing the AUMFs without an appropriate replacement strips the Pentagon of a necessary tool for being able to quickly counter threats in the region. President Donald Trump relied on the 2002 AUMF to strike and kill Iranian Maj. General Qassem Suleimani on Iraqi soil.
U.S. troops continue to serve in Iraq in a non-combat capacity, working to advise and support Iraqi government security forces in the continuing battle against the Islamic State terrorist organization. (RELATED: ‘Potentially Devastating’: Pentagon Responds To Proposed GOP Defense Budget Cuts)
The White House after a procedural vote Thursday pledged to support the Senate bill overturning the Iraq War and Gulf War authorizations in a statement, noting that the U.S. no longer has ongoing military activities in Iraq that depend on the authorizations.
“The Iraq War has itself been long over. This AUMF outlived its purpose and we can no longer justify keeping it in effect,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of Thursday’s vote, according to CBS News.
Several amendments,including one that would have hinged an approval for military operations against Iraq on the administration’s ability to certify Iran no longer provided any form of support to proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, failed to make it into the final bill.
The vote comes just days after the 20th anniversary of the U.S. “shock and awe” campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003 that ousted the regime and led to a protracted attempt to reconstitute a democratic central government and counter insurgencies. ISIS quickly found a foothold in Iraq and captured swaths of territory in 2014.
The total cost of the war could reach $2.89 trillion by 2050 if the costs of medical care for U.S. veterans of the Iraq war is factored in, according to a recent report from Brown University. Researchers estimated that more than 500,000 people, including thousands of civilians, have been killed.
However, the bill leaves untouched a 2001 AUMF enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks authorizing the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the perpetrators and launching the War on Terror.
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