Senate approves withdrawal of authorizations for Gulf and Iraq wars

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal authorizations Congress passed in 1991 and 2002 for the U.S. wars in Iraq.

    The bill, passed by a vote of 66 to 30, would revoke authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, for the 1991 Gulf War under President George H. W. Bush and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush.

    Notably, the bill would not affect the AUMF that Congress passed in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. Presidents have relied on the post-9/11 measure as part of the so-called war on terror to authorize military operations against terrorist organizations deemed a threat to the US

    The White House recently said that President Joe Biden would sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.

    While the measure is expected to pass the Democrat-led Senate, its fate in the GOP-led House is less clear.

    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., recently told NBC News, “I should look at what their bill is doing first,” when asked if he would bring it up for consideration.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he does not support the AUMF repeals.

    “I oppose Congress stopping all authorizations of military power in the Middle East. Our terrorist enemies are not stopping their war against us,” he said in a statement, adding that “the 2002 AUMF is directly related to the threats we face today in Iraq and Syria against Iranian-backed terrorists.”

    In 2020, then-President Donald Trump invoked the AUMF in the 2002 US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a drone strike in Baghdad.

    The US withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 when Biden was vice president.

    The Senate recently voted on several amendments to the Armed Forces Repeal Act, including one that would have revoked authorization after 9/11. That measure failed by a vote of 9 to 86.

    On Monday, the Senate brought forward the AUMF bill in a procedural vote of 65 to 28, which received support from 18 Republicans.

    Congress has previously failed to revoke Gulf and Iraq war authorizations, largely because of intense division over the 2001 measure. Over the past decade, a number of lawmakers have called for its reversal, arguing that the authorization language was too broad and was misused. But debate over the measure has often reached deadlock, with some members of Congress wanting to change the language and others wanting to keep it intact.

    In 2021, with Democrats controlling the House, a bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF passed with support from 49 Republicans. However, the Senate never passed the bill.

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