A bill that would repeal the authorizations for war in Iraq cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Thursday with bipartisan support — and President Biden has signaled that he would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.
Eighteen Republicans, including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, crossed party lines to join Democrats in support of the measure which would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force in Iraq.
The bill was advanced in a 68-27 vote, with a final vote in the Senate expected next week – the 20th anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
“I hope this year, on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, both chambers will finally speak in one voice and send the AUMF repeal to the president’s desk,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Thursday.
“I’m glad that repealing these AUMF has been a genuinely bipartisan effort. I expect we’ll have a number of amendment votes on the floor once the amendment is before us,” he added.
The New York Democrat also argued that repealing the authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars wouldn’t endanger American lives.
“Repealing this AUMF will in any way not hinder our national defense,” Schumer said. “In fact, the repeal is an important step in strengthening our relationship with Iraq.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a co-sponsor of the measure, said the bill would allow Congress to reassert its authority to declare war.
“It is time for Congress to have its voice heard on these matters and I believe this will establish a very important precedent moving forward,” Young said after the vote.
“It’s just representatives of the American people trying to do the right thing at the right time,” Young said of the bipartisan support for formally ending the wars in Iraq.
The 2002 Iraq AUMF has been used by former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump to justify a broad range of military operations in the region, which were conducted without congressional approval.
Obama used the 2002 AUMF to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and Trump used it to defend his order to take out Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
In a Statement of Administration Policy on Thursday, the White House said repealing the war authorizations would not affect military operations in Iraq and would support the administration’s goals in the country.
“Repeal of these authorizations would have no impact on current U.S. military operations and would support this Administration’s commitment to a strong and comprehensive relationship with our Iraqi partners. That partnership, which includes cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces, continues at the invitation of the Government of Iraq in an advise, assist, and enable role,” the White House statement read.
“President Biden remains committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework more appropriate to protecting Americans from modern terrorist threats,” the statement continued.
“Toward that end, the Administration will ensure that Congress has a clear and thorough understanding of the effect of any such action and of the threats facing U.S. forces, personnel, and interests around the world,” the White House added.
Some 2,500 US service members remain active in Iraq despite the end of combat operations in December 2021.
If the measure is passed by the Senate, the bill will go to the Republican-controlled House for a vote, which passed a similar Iraq AUMF-repeal bill in 2021.