1. Update
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

2002 Iraq AUMF: Where Things Stand

By Don Chen, February 18, 2020


On Jan. 30, the House passed a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (2002 Iraq AUMF) as part of two measures intended to prevent the administration from going to war with Iran. Repealing this disastrous war authorization is a major victory, but it’s crucial that we maintain this momentum to end endless war.

The 2002 Iraq AUMF enabled the U.S. to topple the Saddam Hussein regime 18 years ago, resulting in a war that directly cost over 270,000 lives and $2 trillion. This authorization, based on a false premise in the first place, has now far outlived its purpose and is unnecessary for any continuing military operations. Leaving it on the books simply opens the law to abuse, as we saw with the Trump administration’s attempted use of the AUMF to justify the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Last July, after 17 years, the House finally voted to officially repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF. By a vote of 242-180, including 14 Republicans, the House passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Unfortunately, House and Senate negotiators dropped that provision from the final bill before its passage at the end of last year.

Not even three days into this year, this administration risked war with Iran by assassinating Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force. Amazingly, the administration cited the 2002 Iraq AUMF as legal justification, even though it specifically targets threats “posed by Iraq.”

This reckless escalation of violence reunited last year’s bipartisan coalition in the House to once again vote to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, this time by a vote of 236-166, including 11 Republicans.

Your advocacy has made this into an issue that legislators can no longer afford to ignore.

These votes demonstrate consistent bipartisan opposition to war in the Middle East. Passage adds to the pressure on the Senate to act, and serves as a reminder to the Trump administration that the American people are pushing back against limitless war authority. The votes also underscore just how much advocates have shifted the narrative around endless war. For too long, the U.S. has waged wars with little or no congressional oversight. In the past eight months, however, the House has voted three times to repeal AUMFs. This is unprecedented. Your advocacy has made this into an issue that legislators can no longer afford to ignore.

Going forward, the Senate is unlikely to take up this House measure. But there is potential to build support for S.J. Res. 13, a standalone bill introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) to repeal both the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq AUMFs. Urge your senator to cosponsor this resolution.

We are grateful to our network of advocates across the country; people who know that war is not the answer and who regularly talk to their congressional offices about ending endless wars. Let’s keep up the pressure on Congress to return to diplomacy, reassert its constitutional authority, and prevent future wars.

U.S. Wars & Militarism 

Since September 11, Congress has largely ceded its constitutional authority to determine when and where the U.S. goes to war, and three different presidents have expanded our country’s military presence around the world. The result has been a ballooning military budget, torture, compromises on civil and religious liberties and rising Islamophobia. Help FCNL change these policies.

Don Chen

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Don is the Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights. He works to move U.S. foreign policy towards a more peaceful and ethical direction, primarily supporting efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Don works with nationwide grassroots supporters, coalition partners, members of Congress, and legislative staff to reduce the human cost of American foreign policy.