The final vote to end two Iraq war authorizations removes a key procedural hurdle as the Senate decides to limit debate.
The United States Senate has endorsed a measure that is expected to clear the way for a vote to repeal two authorizations for the war in Iraq.
On Monday, the House voted 65-28 to limit debate on whether to end two “Authorizations for the Use of Military Force” (AUMF), one from 1991 that coincided with the gulf war and a second one from 2002, approved in the drive up toward 2003 invasion of Iraq.
That support exceeded the minimum of 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. The final vote to repeal is expected later this week.
Monday’s vote takes place when the US marks the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War. The 28 votes against the measure on Monday came from Republican senators.
Generally, under the United States Constitution, Congress exercises the exclusive power to declare war. But with the two authorizations for the Iraq war, Congress granted unlimited authority to the presidency to exercise force in the region.
That, some argue, has allowed the presidency to gain too much power over military action. It has also drawn criticism that these “zombie” authorizations have fueled “eternal wars” that are no longer justified.
Minutes before Monday’s vote, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey called the measure a means to exercise the House’s “most solemn duty”: to decide “when and under what circumstances” to put Americans “in harm’s way.” .
“It is an acknowledgment that Congress not only has the power to declare war, but should also have the responsibility to end wars,” Menendez said in his speech, urging his fellow senators to pass the measure Monday. .
Menéndez also criticized the war warrants as “obsolete and outdated”. He argued that US President Joe Biden has “sufficient authority to defend himself against threats” without them, noting that recent military airstrikes In Syria.
“If we are going to debate whether to provide the president with additional authorities, then we should have that debate separately. But it should not be under the pretext of keeping old authorizations on the book, authorizations that are not necessary to face any current threat,” Menéndez said.
But several of his Republican colleagues in the Senate took the floor to argue in favor of withholding authorizations for the Iraq war, on the grounds that a repeal could limit the United States’ ability to take action in the Middle East.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, for example, asserted that while the political situation in Iraq has changed, threats to US interests continue. He also cited Iraqi security as a motivation.
“American forces are no longer there to counter the threats from Iraq. Now we are there to counter the threats to Iraq. That includes threats from Iran, the main state sponsor of international terrorism,” Cornyn said in his speech.
“Even though Iraq is now our partner, that doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon our security interests in the region. The United States still has very real adversaries in the Middle East who would hurt us and our allies if given the chance.”
Meanwhile, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham delivered a fiery speech saying that revoking the war authorizations would embolden American adversaries.
This is what you are doing. You’re sending the signal by doing this that we’re leaving. We are leaving. That we do not have the will as a nation to carry this out. There is nothing good that will come of this,” he said, ending his speech by calling the prospect of a repeal “one of the most ill-conceived ideas after 9/11.”
On Twitter after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the chamber would vote on final approval of the repeal later this week.
“Americans want to see an end to the endless wars in the Middle East,” he wrote.