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DC Advocacy team witness at White House holding "Repeal the 2002 AUMF" signs
Matthew Paul D'Agostino

In a vote that marks significant progress for our ongoing work to end endless war, on March 8, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bill to repeal both the 2002 Iraq War authorization and the 1991 Gulf War authorizations (S. 316). The 13-8 vote in favor of the bipartisan measure from Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) clears the way for the bill to move to the Senate floor.

For years, FCNL’s members have worked tirelessly to build congressional support to repeal the Iraq War authorization, known as the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF). This outdated law—passed to defend the United States against the alleged threat of weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein’s regime—has been relied upon by successive presidents to carry out military operations entirely unconnected to its purpose over the last two decades. The authorization is not needed to sustain any current operations but remains open to further abuse as long as it is in place.

Wednesday’s vote confirmed what we’ve known for years: there is a strong, bipartisan consensus that it is long past time to repeal these AUMFs.

Wednesday’s vote confirmed what we’ve known for years: there is a strong, bipartisan consensus that it is long past time to repeal these AUMFs.

After successfully passing the bill through committee, Chairman Bob Menendez (NJ) emphasized Congress’ constitutional duty to prevent the misuse of its war powers. “Today’s vote asserts the congressional prerogative to determine how administrations—current and future ones—justify the use of military force,” he said. “Their repeal is in the U.S. national interest and in the interest of our strategic partnership with Iraq and the region.”

The bill’s sponsors also celebrated the vote. Sen. Young noted that repealing these old AUMFs was “vital to restoring the proper role of Congress in authorizing the use of military force and affirmatively stating when conflicts are over.”

Sen. Kaine added, “Congress has a constitutional and moral responsibility to repeal [the AUMFs] so that future presidents can’t use these authorizations as a blank check to send servicemembers into harm’s way.”

This consensus reflects other such bipartisan efforts in Congress. An identical House companion bill (H.R. 932) from Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Chip Roy (TX-21), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Tom Cole (OK-4) currently has 19 cosponsors, including ten Republicans.

Rep. Lee, who attended Wednesday’s markup, praised the Senate committee vote. “I’ve been working toward this moment for twenty years,” she said. Rep. Lee expressed a firm intention to finally repeal the decades-old AUMFs. “Once the Senate does their job, we’ll make inroads in the House and get it to President Biden’s desk for signature,” she said. “We are well on our way.”

Other key decision-makers have also signaled support for repeal. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) said it is time to “extinguish” the 2002 Iraq AUMF and that he hopes to bring the Kaine-Young bill to the Senate floor before Easter. The Biden administration has issued an official Statement of Administration Policy in support of repeal.

The Kaine-Young bill currently has 24 cosponsors, including 12 Republicans. Passage would be a huge victory, marking the first time in decades that the Senate has successfully voted to end a war. We urge Senate Majority Leader Schumer to fulfill his pledge to bring the AUMF repeal bill to a vote.

Staff: Kevin Snow

Kevin Snow

Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights (2022-2023)

Kevin Snow was the program assistant for Militarism and Human Rights for 2022-2023. He lobbied for policy reforms that protect civilian life in conflict zones and to end America’s Forever Wars.