A Senate bill repealing two separate war authorizations has received the necessary votes to advance, Breitbart reported. The bill revokes the 1991 authorization for military force used in the first Gulf War and the authorization for the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The bill was a bipartisan effort from Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). The 67-28 vote Thursday received bipartisan support and will go on to a debate and final vote.
One of the authorizations has been on the books for more than 3o years and through five presidential administrations. Former President George H.W. Bush was granted the AUMF in 1991 to wage war against Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf.
The second was authorized under former President George W. Bush for the Iraq war and stayed in place for 20 years. The lawmakers who sponsored and voted for the repeal believe it's time to close those open-ended authorizations.
Before the vote was held, Young explained that "many Americans will be surprised to learn that these authorizations…are still on the books," he said. Young also noted that revoking the authorizations "would affect no current military operations."
The Indiana Republican believes that leaving the AUMFs in place could allow "for abuse by the executive branch." He also noted that it's a goodwill gesture and sends a "message to our partner Iraq" as well as other Middle Eastern nations that the U.S. is not interested in further aggression.
"Let us be clear — Saddam Hussein is dead, and we’re no longer worried about the threat posed by Iraq as stated in this AUMF, which we propose repealing," Young pointed out. In February, Young had raised concerns that Iraq was "still technically an enemy" as long as the authorization was in place.
"Sadly, according to these laws that are still on the books, Iraq is still technically an enemy of the United States. This inconsistency and inaccuracy should be corrected," Young said at the time, according to CBS News.
"Congress must do its job and take seriously the decision to not just commit America to war, but to affirmatively say that we are no longer at war," Young stated. Politicians on the other side of the aisle similarly spotted the benefit of such a move.
"The Iraq War has itself been long over," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote. "This AUMF outlived its purpose and we can no longer justify keeping it in effect," the New York Democrat added.
Worrying that leaving those powers in place could mean further military action is more than an academic concern, however. Former President Barack Obama used the 2002 powers to justify retaliatory attacks three years after declaring the conflict in the region was over.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump used the same authorization to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani via drone strike in Baghdad. Critics claimed the strike was unauthorized since Iran was not included in the original powers, but the precedent had been set.
A similar bill calling for repeal is making its way through the House of Representatives, though it has temporarily stalled in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It is a bipartisan effort as well, proving there is a strong appetite to get this done.
It is always a good idea to rein in the powers of the federal government whenever the opportunity presents itself. Considering Congress has not formally declared war since World War II but these authorizations persist, it's a problem in a system of supposed checks and balances.