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House repeals 2002 Iraq war authorization

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the repeal of the 2002 Iraq war authorization. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the repeal of the 2002 Iraq war authorization. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- The House voted on Thursday to repeal the 2002 war authorization of military force against Iraq -- legislation that has been used to justify action on a range of groups since then.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks argued that the legislation was "vulnerable to being abused" given Iraq's proximity to other global hotspots.

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"Repeal is crucial because the executive branch has a history of stretching the 2002 AUMF's legal authority," Meeks said during the vote. "It has already been used as justification for military actions against entities that had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist's dictatorship."

The repeal was endorsed by the White House and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, who vowed on Wednesday to bring the matter to the Senate this year. The vote passed by 268-161 in the House, with 49 Republicans and 219 Democrats voting in favor.

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House Foreign Relations Committee's top Republican Michael McCaul voted against the measure, arguing that the Biden administration hadn't adequately consulted with the Pentagon, State Department, Iraq, allies or Congress.

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McCaul suggested a replacement of the authorization rather than a repeal, stating that the move "sends a dangerous message of disengagement that could destabilize Iraq, embolden Iran, which it will, and strengthen al-Qaeda and ISIS in the region."

Schumer said the legislation would not abandon Iraq, but instead that it would "eliminate the danger of a future administration reaching back into the legal dustbin to use it as a justification for military adventurism."

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He listed the Washington-directed airstrike against Iranian General Qassim Soleimani in 2020 as an example.

The bill must now be considered by the Senate, which is already considering a similar measure, though theirs includes a repeal of the Iraq-focused 1991 authorization. If both bills pass, the two chambers will have to consolidate the bills before laying a final product on the president's desk.

Senator Tim Kaine said he hopes the 2002 AUMF repeal would become an amendment to the larger annual National Defense Authorization Act later this year.

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He said he intends to spark discussions this summer in order to revise the 2001 AUMF by its 20th anniversary and to rewrite the 1973 War Powers Resolution which mandates the president get Congress's approval before sending troops into action abroad.

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The move to reclaim Congress's war powers is supported in both parties, though it is opposed by some.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the repeal "reckless," and asked how it would impact the U.S. counter-terror missions, cyber operations and support for Kurdish and Arab forces.

"The AUMF is important in Iraq because it provides authorities for U.S. forces to defend themselves from a variety of real exigent threats," said McConnell. "It's arguably even more important in Syria, where our personnel are present against the wishes of the brutal Assad regime supporting local Kurdish and Arab forces and conducting strikes against ISIS."

The White House expressed its support of the bill earlier this week, stating that no ongoing military activities rely upon the 2002 authorization.

It added that Biden is looking to replace war authorization with narrow frameworks meant to ensure protection for Americans against terrorist threats.

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