Washington, DC – A diverse group of organizations, focusing variously on faith-based initiatives, peace, veterans’ issues, government accountability, and human rights applauded today’s overwhelming bipartisan Senate vote to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) and formally end the Gulf and Iraq wars. These repeals would reassert Congress’s constitutional responsibility to decide whether and when the United States goes to war. The House has previously voted to repeal both of these war authorizations, and President Biden has signaled his strong support. Today’s vote makes clear there is strong bipartisan support for reclaiming Congressional oversight over military action. Now, it’s time for the House to follow suit and repeal the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs once and for all.
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“Quakers know that war is not and never has been the answer. Not today. Not tomorrow. And certainly not 20 years ago. The 2002 Iraq AUMF, as we stated at the time, should have never been passed and signed into law. A Congressional repeal of the law is a vital step to help heal our country’s addiction to war and end endless wars. What we can invest more in to build a safer world is peacebuilding and global cooperation. True peace is more than the absence of fighting. It is addressing the root causes of war and managing conflict nonviolently. As long as the US can still attack and kill with impunity in Iraq, neither its people nor ours will know true peace.” Bridget Moix, Friends Committee on National Legislation General Secretary.
“Today’s vote is an important albeit long overdue step toward formally ending the Gulf and Iraq wars. Repealing the 1991 and 2002 authorizations is necessary to ensure that future decisions about U.S. military engagement are made responsibly and with appropriate accountability and oversight. The House should follow suit and send this legislation to President Biden’s desk,” said Andrew Albertson, executive director of Foreign Policy for America.
“The Iraq War is long over and yet the law authorizing it remains. The fact that the 2002 Iraq AUMF is still in place today, more than a decade after the war was declared over, stands in direct contrast to Congress’s unique power and responsibility to decide whether and when the United States chooses war. We have seen presidents, on both sides of the aisle, use the 2002 AUMF to justify attacks that Congress never even contemplated, let alone authorized. In recent years, the House has voted many times to repeal this authorization. Now the Senate has done the same and President Biden has signaled his support. It is time to formally end this war once and for all.” Heather Brandon-Smith, Friends Committee on National Legislation Legislative Director for Militarism and Human Rights.
“For two decades, Iraqi women human rights defenders have demanded accountability for the illegal US invasion that devastated their communities and for an occupation that traded away women’s human rights. Today is an important first step to reckon with US decisions that fed into the disastrous reality that Iraqis still live with. We must push on to demand justice for Iraqi women and a nation brutalized by decades of war, and accountability for the US occupation and the policymakers who lied to Iraqis, to the United States, and to the world, to begin this illegal war,” Yifat Susskind, executive director of MADRE.
“The lack of accountability for the needless invasion of and the human rights abuses in Iraq isn’t just morally reprehensible - it still impacts our politics and credibility around the world to this day. Accountability means reparative reforms that would make Iraqi families and communities whole. It also, crucially, means repealing the 2002 AUMF, which has no sunset clause and was not modified in any way even after the world learned that the Bush administration’s WMD claims were a lie.” Sara Haghdoosti, Executive Director of Win Without War.
“Repealing the 2002 AUMF is a critical step for our republic in reestablishing democratic control over when, where and how our leaders choose to send this nation and its citizens to war. The 2002 AUMF has far outstayed its original remit and has been used to greenlight military action overseas well beyond its original scope. The Center for Defense Information and Project On Government Oversight are proud to support this initiative and help bring the power to start new wars back under congressional control,” Geoff Wilson, Director of the Center for Defense Information at POGO.
“As family members of those killed on 9/11, we opposed the 2002 invasion of Iraq and have been deeply concerned by the continued misuse of the authorizations for use of military force to carry out additional acts of aggression and violence. We applaud the Senate’s passage of the Kaine-Young bill,” Terry Rockefeller of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
“As a military spouse I have heard my fair share of ‘Thank you for your service!’ from well-meaning civilians. But occasions like the recent 20th anniversary of the Iraq war are solemn reminders that we need so much more than casual platitudes from our non-military neighbors — we need tangible policy action. We need voters and policymakers to show that they’ve learned from the mistakes of the last 20 years to avoid suffering the same loss and sacrifice in the next 20. That’s why SFI strongly supports repealing the dangerous, outdated Iraq war authorizations. We are grateful to the Senators who voted in support of this important legislation.” Sarah Streyder, Executive Director Secure Families Initiative.
“Following the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, the Senate has seized an incredible opportunity for a historic course correction on U.S. foreign policy by repealing decades-old Iraq War authorizations, which targeted a long-deposed regime that no longer exists. It’s been long past time for Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty in matters of where, when, and why we send American troops to sacrifice in defense of our country – the repeal of the Iraq AUMFs is a strong first step in turning the page on decades of flawed strategy and unnecessary war in the Middle East. Repealing these AUMFs also removes the possibility that they might be abused in the future to take America to war again without congressional approval. We hope this historic repeal will pave the way for a better U.S. foreign policy, including ending the war in Iraq and bringing home all 2,500 American troops still in harm’s way,” Russ Duerstine, Concerned Veterans for America.
“This is a long overdue final end to the Authorization to Use Military Force, originally approved for the 2003 U.S. intervention in Iraq based on faulty reasoning and mistaken intelligence. The events in Iraq have cost thousands of American lives and wasted billions of taxpayers’ dollars for questionable goals. My former colleagues in Congress must exercise better oversight of such military adventures to prevent further prolonging forever wars in the future,” John Tierney, Council for a Livable World Executive Director and former nine-term Congressman.
“Congress must reassert its constitutional war powers and prevent the president from initiating hostilities without democratic debate or accountability. Getting the 2002 Iraq War AUMF off the books is a key step toward that goal. It’s exciting to see bipartisan momentum toward reining in overbroad interpretations of the president’s use-of-force authorities and restoring Congress’s role in deciding when, where, and against whom the United States is at war,” Katherine Yon Ebright, counsel for the Brennan Center.
“For 20 years since Congress authorized forces to invade Iraq in 2002, the US has relied on that authorization to justify ongoing military action in the region with little to no Congressional oversight or approval. Today, there is widespread, bipartisan agreement that the 2002 AUMF is outdated and can be repealed without impacting our national security. Therefore, we applaud the Senate for taking action to repeal the 2002 AUMF and urge Congress to consider reforms to authorizing future uses of military force that better balance the need to act quickly to protect our national interests and ensure adequate, ongoing oversight,” said Soren Dayton, Director of Governance for the Niskanen Center.
“As a veteran of the War in Iraq, I saw first hand the utter devastation the war had on ordinary Iraqis, and the ordinary troops who were sent there. Keeping these war authorizations open after all these years is a sad reminder of our country’s mistake. We need to ensure it never happens again, and that begins with this repeal and continues by requiring congressional authorization, after a full public debate, before America ever sends our troops into harms way again,” said Naveed Shah, Political Director for Common Defense.
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