WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Thursday for open debate on a bipartisan bill repealing authorizations passed in 1991 and 2002 for the US wars in Iraq.
Lawmakers voted 68-27 to move forward with the legislation, a move that required 60 votes and the first of several votes related to the measure.
The bill would repeal authorizations for the use of military force for the Gulf War in 1991 under President George HW Bush and for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush.
In remarks on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. said Thursday that the bill “puts the last vestiges of those struggles behind us.”
“The United States, the nation of Iraq, and the entire world have changed dramatically since 2002, and it is time that the laws on the books catch up with these changes,” he said. “The Iraq War itself is long over. This AUMF has outlived its purpose and we can no longer justify keeping it in effect.”
The White House said in a formal notice on Thursday that President Joe Biden would sign the legislation if it came to his desk. The House must first vote on it before that can happen, however, if it passes the Senate.
Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind., are lead sponsors of the measure. Overall, 41 senators have co-sponsored the bill, including 12 Republicans. Kaine said Iraq’s government supports the legislation, telling reporters, “They see this as an acceptance of the new chapter in their relationship and it will be viewed positively.”
Specifically, the bill would not repeal or affect the war authorization passed by Congress in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which began the so-called “War on Terror”. US presidents since then have relied on that measure to authorize various military operations against non-state terrorist organizations that pose a threat to Americans.
Due to intense division over the 2001 measure, Congress has previously been unable to pass repeal of these war authorizations. Over the past decade, several lawmakers have called for that authority to be overturned because, they have argued, it is overly broad and taken advantage of. But it has been an irreconcilable debate as some members of Congress want to modify the language or keep it entirely.
The Senate is expected to continue considering the repeal of the Iraq War authorizations next week and vote on amendments. Kaine said those amendments are likely to center around Iran and Article II, which deals with executive power.