The Senate on Wednesday voted to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was used for the invasion of Iraq and the 1991 AUMF that was passed for the Gulf War.
The bill passed in a vote of 66-30 and now heads to the House. Repealing the Iraq war AUMFs is largely a symbolic move as the 2001 AUMF passed to invade Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks is used to justify wars today.
The 2002 Iraq AUMF was most recently cited by the Trump administration in 2020 when it killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. But since then, President Biden has cited Article II of the US Constitution to justify airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, claiming they were launched in “self-defense” of US forces illegally occupying Syria.
When arguing in favor of repealing the Iraq AUMFs, Sen. Tim Kaine said President Biden would still be able to use Article II of the Constitution to launch airstrikes. The presence of US forces in Iraq and Syria is justified by the 2001 AUMF and won’t be affected by the repeal. The 2001 AUMF is also used for the war in Somalia and other US operations across Africa.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered an amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF, but it didn’t come close to passing, failing in a vote of 9-86. In a statement after his bill failed, Paul said the Senate “should have risen above symbolism and repealed the 9/11 authorization for war and shown our respect for the Constitution, our fealty to the rule of law, and our sincere desire that peace, not perpetual war, be our legacy.”