The 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF) will mark its 20th anniversary on Oct. 16.
Congress passed this law to clear the way for the U.S. intervention of Iraq and the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime. Hussein was deposed in 2003 and executed three years later. And yet, the 2002 Iraq AUMF has remained in place.
The 2002 Iraq AUMF provides a potential fig leaf of legitimacy to warmongering. It cannot be allowed to remain in place.
Successive administrations have argued for its continued relevance, reinterpreting the authorization’s scope to suit an evolving number of military actions that Congress never approved. But this year, things may finally be changing.
Back in July, the House successfully adopted a provision to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF as part of the annual defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) have now submitted an equivalent amendment to the Senate NDAA, which is due to hit the Senate floor after the November midterm elections.
Sens. Kaine and Young’s NDAA amendment mirrors their bipartisan standalone bill, which 11 Republicans have already signed on to. Some commentators believe that the votes are already there to finally take this decades-old war authorization off the books and put Congress back in its constitutionally-mandated role as the body to decide whether the United States chooses war.
Crucially, the Biden administration also supports repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF, having issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the matter in June 2021. While the administration has also confirmed its belief that the law does not provide authorization for a conflict with Iran, there is nothing to prevent a future administration from holding the opposite view.
Indeed, some members of Congress have claimed that the 2002 Iraq AUMF provides statutory authority for the president to bomb Iranian-aligned groups. Former President Trump even used the authority to justify the targeted killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF is essential to preventing this or any future administration from abusing it to justify expanding our already endless wars.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has promised a vote to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF on the Senate floor. With strong bipartisan support for repeal in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, we urge Leader Schumer and Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (RI) to ensure that senators can have their say on the Kaine/Young 2002 Iraq AUMF repeal amendment on the Senate floor.
The 2002 Iraq AUMF provides a potential fig leaf of legitimacy to warmongering. It cannot be allowed to remain in place. Repealing it would mean one less tool for the perpetuation of American military adventures abroad.