The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would repeal the authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) that was passed in 2002 for the invasion of Iraq and the 1991 AUMF used for the Gulf War.
The measure was introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) and passed in a vote of 14 to 8, with most Republicans on the panel voting against it. The three Republicans who voted in favor of the bill were Young, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Other Republicans said repealing the Iraq AUMFs would contain the US in its ability to attack Iran or its “proxies.” The Trump administration cited the 2002 AUMF to justify the January 2020 assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad.
In previous years, efforts to do away with the Iraq authorizations failed in the Senate, but the passage of the measure on Wednesday signals that the bill has a chance. In June, the House passed legislation that would repeal the 2002 AUMF.
The Biden administration has come out in favor of repealing the 2002 AUMF since it would not affect current military operations. “The Biden-Harris administration believes the 2002 authorization for the use of military force against Iraq has outlived its usefulness and should be repealed,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Senate committee on Tuesday. “The administration has made clear that we have no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF.”
The US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria rely on the 2001 AUMF. To justify Biden’s recent airstrikes against militias in Iraq and Syria, the White House cited Article II of the Constitution, somehow claiming the bombings were done in self-defense.
The Biden administration recently started bombing Somalia after a long pause in US airstrikes in the country. In its press releases on the strikes, US Africa Command said they were conducted under the 2001 AUMF.
Some Democrats in Congress have spoken out against the airstrikes in Somalia, including Senator Kaine. “I have received no information suggesting that these strikes are necessary to protect any US personnel and would need to understand, if this is so, why they are occurring,” he said.
Kaine and other Democrats working to rein in the president’s war powers believe the 2001 AUMF should be replaced with a more narrow authorization instead of repealing it altogether.