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House Votes to Repeal 2002 Iraq War Authorization

The House voted Thursday to rescind the 2002 authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in Iraq, in a move that is backed by the White House and rapidly gaining support in the Senate after nearly twenty years of bipartisan opposition to curtailing the president’s war-making powers.

Forty nine Republicans joined the Democratic coalition to pass the bill, while 160 Republicans rejected it. Out of 220 Democratic members, only one, reportedly Representative Elaine Luria of Virginia, voted against the measure. The bill now heads to the Senate.

“The administration supports the repeal of the 2002 AUMF, as the United States has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis, and repeal of the 2002 AUMF would likely have minimal impact on current military operations,” the White House said in a statement Monday.

The bill would revoke the 2002 AUMF that was used as justification for then-President George W. Bush’s plans to invade Iraq. Sponsored by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, the legislation aims to restrict the executive’s ability to authorize missions that could entrench the U.S. in potential military quagmires overseas.

After a similar repeal failed to advance in 2019, Congress has put the agenda item back on the table after President Biden launched airstrikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria in February in retaliation for militia assaults on U.S. personnel in Iraq. Former President Donald Trump also invoked the 2002 provision to deploy an airstrike against an Iranian target in Iraq last year.

Now that the Iraq war, the original motive of the 2002 AUMF, is long past, both Republicans and Democrats are teaming up to remove what they view as an potentially dangerous invitation for future U.S. military adventurism.

“It’s been such a long time coming,” Lee said ahead of Thursday’s vote. “It’s Congress’ responsibility to authorize the use of force, and that authorization cannot be blank checks that stay as authorizations for any administration to use the way they see fit.”

After voting against the bill, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney issued a statement explaining her reasoning and criticism.

“AUMF repeal without comprehensive replacement is dangerous, misguided and ignores the security challenges facing our nation. This legislation removes a critical tool used by previous administrations – Republican and Democrat – to defeat terrorist threats originating in Iraq,” she wrote.

Cheney also stated that the repeal would indicate U.S. weakness to both foreign adversaries and allies and constrain the military from combatting rogue enemies in the Middle East in the future.

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