Senate Votes to Repeal War Powers – Congress Takes Back Control

With a vote of 66-30, the Senate has made history by repealing a pair of resolutions that had authorized the President to commence military operations against Iraq. Those who supported the repeal see it as a significant move towards reasserting Congress' power and curbing the President's war authority. The bill to overturn the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) for the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War was first introduced by Senator Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia in 2019. However, those who oppose the repeal have cautioned that doing so without an appropriate replacement would deprive the Pentagon of a critical tool to address threats in the region.

According to Russ Duerstine, the Executive Director of Concerned Veterans of America, it is the constitutional duty of Congress to approve the deployment of troops, including specifying the location, timing, and purpose of their mission. Duerstine argues that repealing the AUMFs eliminates the potential for abuses of power and the ability to go to war without Congressional consent. However, in the past, President Donald Trump utilized the 2002 AUMF to launch an attack that resulted in the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani on Iraqi territory.

Despite several proposed amendments, such as one that would have restricted military operations in Iraq to the condition that Iran ceases support to proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, none of them were included in the final bill. Nonetheless, the White House has committed to endorsing the Senate's legislation that repeals the authorizations for the Iraq War and Gulf War. They stated that the US does not have any ongoing military operations in Iraq that require the authorizations.

The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, highlighted that the Iraq War has concluded, and since the AUMF has exceeded its original objective, there is no valid reason to retain it. Nevertheless, the legislation does not address the 2001 AUMF, which was enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and permits the President to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against the perpetrators, initiating the War on Terror.

The recent Senate vote took place just days after the 20th anniversary of the US-led "shock and awe" campaign against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003. Despite costing an estimated $2.89 trillion by 2050, factoring in medical care expenses for US veterans of the Iraq war, and resulting in the deaths of over 500,000 individuals, the War on Terror continues to this day. The campaign was initiated to remove Saddam Hussein's regime and establish democracy while combating insurgencies. However, ISIS eventually gained a foothold in Iraq, taking control of vast stretches of territory in 2014.

Written by Staff Reports

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