WASHINGTON — The Senate passed legislation Wednesday repealing decades-old military authorizations and formally end the Iraq and Gulf wars.
The bill to repeal the authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, passed in the Senate by a vote of 66-30.
This isn’t the first time Congress is voting to repeal the military authorizations. A bill previously passed the House in 2021 but failed to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., reintroduced the bipartisan legislation in February that would prevent future presidents from misusing military force without congressional authorization. The bill had dozens of bipartisan cosponsors.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday the odds are high it will be signed into law before the end of the year because there’s a lot of support in the House and from President Joe Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has indicated he supports a repeal.
Biden supports AUMF repeal
President Joe Biden, who served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his time in the Senate, said he supports the legislation to formally end the military authorizations.
Repealing the authorizations would not impact current military operations, according to a statement from the Biden administration, because the United States does not have ongoing military activities related to the decades-old authorizations.
Kaine told USA TODAY he attributes support from the Biden administration as part of his reasoning for re-introducing the bill this Congress, saying the president understands the role of Congress from his time in the upper chamber.
Bill gives Congress more power when to send troops into war
In addition to repealing the authorizations for use of military force specifically for the Iraq and Gulf Wars, Kaine’s bill also gives Congress more power in determining when to send troops into combat.
“This is part of a larger strategy of getting Congress to really own a responsibility that we should jealously guard – which is determination about when the nation should be at war and the ability to declare ‘OK, the war is over’,” Kaine told USA TODAY.
He also noted the congressionally-approved authorized military action could be misused by presidents years later for unintended purposes.
“If congress has authorized military action… but then if we just leave that authorization on the books long after the war is over, it really creates an opportunity for mischief,” Kaine said.
Congress tried, fails to pass AUMF in 2021
The 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the Iraq and Gulf Wars passed more than two decades ago.
Kaine first introduced legislation repealing the military force authorizations in 2019. The House passed the bill in June 2021, but it died in the Republican-controlled Senate. Kaine said his colleagues have become more concerned about Congress advocating for the authorization responsibility to the president.
Military force authorizations should be repealed because Iraq is now an ally to the United States, Kaine said, referencing how Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Baghdad at the beginning of March.