Legislation that would limit the executive branch’s powers to conduct military operations in Iraq without congressional approval passed the Senate Wednesday and now awaits a House vote under Republican leadership.
A bipartisan group of senators voted 66-30 to repeal 1991 and 2002 authorizations (AUMF) for combat operations against Iraq to reduce American presidents’ broad powers to conduct military operations without congressional approval.
Notably, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) whipped against clawing back congressional war powers from the executive branch.
The bill will head to the House, where the Republican chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), appears to be the biggest obstacle to its passage.
On March 21, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) signaled he would not have a “problem” repealing the president’s powers.
But McCaul claims he is still waiting for McCarthy’s approval. McCaul, an establishment Republican, has been a strong advocate of sending billions to defend Ukraine’s border.
“I’m still waiting to hear back from leadership on if we can go forward with a replacement, and if not, I’m sure it probably has the votes to pass,” he told the New York Times.
President Joe Biden has issued support for the measure, putting pressure on establishment House Republicans to support the measure in committee.
GOP Rep. Steube: Lack of Mission for Ukraine Funding Reminds Me of Lack of Clear Mission with Iraq War:
A political shift has occurred in American politics in recent decades. Many far-left politicians and conservatives have united against the establishment on some issues. One of those issues is repealing the AUMF. The Times reported about the shift:
Over the past few years, there has also been a pronounced generational shift in Congress and in both parties, where antiwar voices on the left have aligned with “America First” enthusiasts on the right who resist entangling the United States in foreign conflicts. Only 69 lawmakers remain in Congress who cast a vote for the 2002 Iraq war authorization, when about half of them supported it. Of those 69, only 17 oppose repealing the measure today. At the same time, many of the new entrants have brought different attitudes to Washington about how Congress should approach matters of war and peace.
“Twenty years gives time for people to change their minds and think about things and evaluate them, and so I think that’s all part of it,” said Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s reasonable to think that this has the ability to make it all the way.”
Yet the road through the Republican-led House may depend chiefly on whether party leaders who have historically opposed repealing such measures are willing to relent — and those leaders are presently under tremendous pressure to stop the bill in its tracks.
Congress passed the 2001 AUMF in the wake of 9/11 and the language was intentionally vague. Since it's passage it has been used to deploy American troops to 22 different countries. 20 years have passed and US troops are no longer in Afghanistan but the AUMF remains active. pic.twitter.com/vEHwIsWFoz
— Concerned Veterans for America (@ConcernedVets) March 23, 2023