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As Wars Wind Down, Congress Revisits Presidential Powers

In turn, they believe, presidents will be more politically sensitive to using their powers to carry out military actions absent specific approval from Congress. Mr. Kaine, for instance, said Mr. Biden’s recent airstrikes in Syria, which he ordered without congressional authorization, “show that the executive branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers.”

President Barack Obama more or less dared Congress in 2015 to debate the use of military force abroad, but both parties refused for opposite reasons. Republicans were loath to grant Mr. Obama authority because they disapproved of his foreign policies, and Democrats were still stinging from the vote in 2002 to authorize the war in Iraq.

But time and the resident of the White House have shifted the ground, and a broad group supports a repeal of the 2002 authorization including the conservative Heritage Foundation and Concerned Veterans for America, as well as VoteVets, a liberal nonprofit group that supports Democrats, and the American Legion, the veterans’ advocacy group.

Mr. Obama sent mixed messages about his view of presidential war powers, and President Donald J. Trump would have vetoed efforts to eliminate the 2002 authorization. But Mr. Biden, who was once the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has always been more sympathetic toward the constitutional role that Congress has on matters of war.

“The president is committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework appropriate to ensure that we can continue to protect Americans from terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement.

The remaining uncertainty may be one or two Senate Democrats and several Senate Republicans who remain skeptical of the repeal. This week, Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Thune of South Dakota and other Republicans said in interviews that they were open to repeal of the 2002 measure.

“It’s something we’re all I think going to be looking at,” Mr. Thune said.

Mr. Young, a retired Marine captain, may be persuasive in helping round up Republican support for the Senate bill being pushed by Mr. Kaine, who has worked on this issue for decades.

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