Senate to hold key vote on rescinding Iraq War permits

Washington – The Senate will hold a key procedural vote on Thursday on a measure that would overturn the legal justifications used for the attacks on Iraq in 1991 and 2003, almost 20 years to the day since the US declared its ” “Shock and Awe” campaign to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein began.

The bipartisan legislation would rescind the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed to allow the 2003 invasion, as well as the 1991 authorization that authorized the first Gulf War. The bill, supported by 12 Republican co-sponsors, is expected to easily get the 60 votes needed to go ahead.

“The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs are no longer necessary, serve no operational purpose, and are at risk of potential abuse,” said Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who along with Republican Senator Todd Young co-sponsored the Senate version of the Indiana bill. called when the measure was introduced in February.

Kaine and Young first introduced their legislation in 2019 and swept the Senate Foreign Relations Committee clean in 2021. In the same year the House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2002 approval, but the Senate never voted on it. Efforts to include a repeal in annual defense authorization bills have also failed.

The White House said Thursday that President Biden supports the lifting of the permits and that it “would have no impact on ongoing U.S. military operations and would support this administration’s commitment to a strong and comprehensive relationship with our Iraqi partners.” Opponents of the repeal say it could limit U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region and affect the ability to quickly respond to national security threats.

Thursday’s procedural vote comes nearly two decades after the US and its allies began airstrikes on Iraqi targets on March 19, 2003. The next day, ground forces began moving into Iraq. The basis of the war was the Bush administration’s false assessment that the dictator had weapons of mass destruction. Allied forces toppled Hussein’s regime within weeks, but a series of missteps created a power vacuum that allowed a growing Iraqi insurgency to thrive. More than 4,400 US soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians would die in the fighting.

Fires rage on the west bank of the Tigris River March 21, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. / Photo credit: Getty Images

President Barack Obama official ended the war 2011 and ordered the withdrawal of US troops, marking “a new phase in US-Iraq relations.” Three years after Obama declared the war over, US troops returned to fight the terrorist group ISIS, and the Obama administration cited the 2002 authorization as legal justification for military operations against the militants.

The US now views Iraq as a key partner in the region, particularly given its proximity to and relationship with Iran.

“Unfortunately, under these laws, which are still on the books, Iraq is still technically an enemy of the United States. This inconsistency and inaccuracy should be corrected,” Young said in February. “Congress must do its job and take seriously the decision not only to take America to war, but to affirm that we are no longer at war.”

The then President Donald Trump also used the 2002 approval as a legal justification for this An airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Kassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020. Supporters of a repeal argued that the permit did not constitute consent to military force against Iran and made a US-Iran conflict more likely.

The bill, which will be examined by the Senate on Thursday, would not reverse the 2001 authorization to use force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks. This authorization still forms the legal basis for many US counter-terrorism efforts.

The White House said Thursday that the administration is ready to replace “outdated authorizations” with a “narrow and specific framework better suited to protecting Americans from modern terrorist threats.”

A bipartisan group of MPs Barbara Lee, Chip Roy, Abigail Spanberger and Tom Cole also introduced one The invoice to revoke approvals for Iraq in the House of Representatives in early February, but it has yet to get out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the committee, told CBS News in a statement that a “piecemeal removal of these Iraqi authorities is not a serious contribution to war power reform.”

“Congress must have a comprehensive replacement [counterterrorism] AUMF in consultation with our military commanders and intelligence agencies,” he said.

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