The Senate voted on Wednesday to repeal the authorizations for the Iraq and Persian Gulf wars decades after they were instituted.
Eighteen Republicans joined all voting Democrats and independents in supporting the measure. The final tally was 66-30, with four members not voting, according to C-SPAN.
66-30: Senate votes to repeal the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs against Iraq. The bipartisan bill by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) now heads to the House. pic.twitter.com/KEdbzh8iUW
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 29, 2023
The bill targets the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 1991, which paved the way for military force in the Gulf War when George H.W. Bush was president, and the AUMF in 2002 that green-lit the 2003 invasion of Iraq when his son, George W. Bush, was president.
Before the legislation becomes law, it still needs approval from the Republican-controlled House and the president’s signature.
The White House said this month that President Joe Biden supports the repeal, noting that the authorization “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.”
Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) reintroduced the legislation earlier this year. In a statement, they described the bill as part of an effort to “prevent the future misuse of the expired Gulf and Iraq War authorizations and strengthen Congressional oversight over war powers.”
The senators also stressed that repealing these authorities would not impact ongoing U.S. operations to counter ISIS.
Among those who opposed the repeal was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who did not vote on Wednesday. He recently returned home after undergoing physical therapy at an inpatient center following a fall that caused a concussion and minor rib fracture.
“I am opposed to Congress sunsetting any military force authorizations in the Middle East,” McConnell said in a statement. “Our terrorist enemies aren’t sunsetting their war against us. And when we deploy our servicemembers in harm’s way, we need to supply them with all the support and legal authorities that we can.”
The Associated Press noted that the war authorizations have rarely been used as the basis for any presidential action. Former President Donald Trump’s White House cited the 2002 authorization to justify the drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, near the Baghdad International Airport in 2020.