Senate votes to repeal 2002 measure authorizing war in Iraq

The Senate on Wednesday voted to overturn the resolution that gave the green light to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an attempt to restore basic war power to Congress from the White House, 20 years after an authorization many are now saying was she was a mistake.

The Iraqi death toll is estimated in the hundreds of thousands, and nearly 5,000 US soldiers were killed in the war after President George W. Bush’s administration falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

“This body has plunged into a war,” said Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat who has been pushing for the powers to be removed for years. The war had “massive consequences,” Kaine said.

Senators voted 66-30 to repeal the 2002 measure and also the 1991 permit that sanctioned the US-led Gulf War. If passed by the House of Representatives, the repeal is expected to not affect current military operations. But lawmakers from both parties are increasingly trying to reclaim Congressional powers over US military strikes and operations, and some lawmakers who voted for the Iraq war two decades ago now say it was a mistake.

“Americans want an end to the endless wars in the Middle East,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, adding that passing the repeal is “a necessary step to put these bitter conflicts behind us.”

Supporters, including nearly 20 Republican senators, say the repeal is crucial to deter future abuses and underscore that Iraq is now a strategic partner of the United States. Opponents say the repeal could project weakness as the US still faces conflicts in the Middle East.

“Our terrorist enemies are not ending their war against us,” said Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell, who was recovering at home from a fall earlier this month and missed the vote. “If we put our service workers at risk, we must provide them with all the support and legal authority we can.”

The repeal’s future is less certain in the House of Representatives, where 49 Republicans joined forces with Democrats to support a similar bill two years ago. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has indicated he is willing to support a repeal despite previously opposing it, but Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said , has indicated that he would like to replace it with something else instead. But what that is supposed to be is unclear.

Kaine and Todd Young, R-Ind., who co-led the effort, have said they believe strong bipartisan voting sends a strong message to Americans who believe their voices are heard on issues of war and peace should.

President Donald Trump’s administration cited the 2002 Iraq War resolution as part of its legal justification for a 2020 US drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, but the resolutions by the two warring powers have rarely been used as a basis otherwise used for any Presidential action. Approximately 2,500 US troops remain in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to support and advise local forces.

A separate 2001 authorization for the global war on terror would remain under the bill that President Joe Biden has said he will support.

The October 2002 vote to give Bush sweeping powers to invade Iraq was a pivotal moment for many members of Congress as the country debated whether military action was warranted. The US was then already at war in Afghanistan, the country that hosted the al-Qaeda conspirators responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, something Iraq played no part in.

The Bush administration had solicited support from members of Congress and the American public for the invasion of Iraq by disseminating what turned out to be false intelligence alleging that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. After the first invasion in March 2003, US ground forces quickly found that claims of nuclear or chemical weapons programs were unfounded.

The US ouster of Iraqi security forces sparked a brutal sectarian struggle and violent campaigns by Islamist extremist groups in Iraq. Car bombings, assassinations, torture and kidnappings were part of everyday life for years.

Some GOP senators opposed to the repeal, including McConnell, have raised concerns about recent attacks on US troops in Syria. A drone strike last week killed an American contractor and wounded five soldiers and another contractor, then a missile attack wounded another service member. Iranian-backed militants are blamed for the attacks.

Biden and his administration have argued that lifting it would not affect any response to Iran. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both said at a Senate hearing last week that American troops have the authority to protect themselves and to respond to attacks, including under Article 2 of the Constitution that provides for it the president has the power to protect troops.

McConnell’s pushback comes amid a growing rift in the Republican Party over the US role in the Middle East, with some echoing Trump’s “America First” message to argue against military intervention abroad. Other Republicans fear Congress is giving the president too much latitude on war issues.

“I think a lot of lessons have been learned over the past 20 years,” said Young, the Indiana senator who is the lead Republican sponsor of the repeal. He said those supporting the legislation “want to make sure the American people can hold us accountable, rather than delegating these vital authorities to an executive branch and then bemoaning the executive branch’s ignorant wisdom when things aren’t going well.” .”

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