Last week, the House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA. Unfortunately, an amendment to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF) was not included.
Attaching the 2002 Iraq AUMF repeal to the NDAA—which is considered “must pass” legislation by many members of Congress—was one promising path forward for advancing this legislation to end the forever wars. The House’s failure to do so is disappointing. However, we are not discouraged. There remain multiple paths to repeal.
2002 AUMF Repeal May Not Be in the NDAA, but the House Has a Plan
After two days of private discussions about whether to bring the 2002 Iraq AUMF repeal amendment to a vote on the House floor, lawmakers announced they had reached a deal. In exchange for leaving the 2002 AUMF repeal out of the NDAA process, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) assured lawmakers that the issue would be taken up as a standalone measure later this year.
House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (OK-04) said, “We do have an assurance from the speaker that this will be dealt with in September.”
There is Growing Bipartisan Support for Repeal
Strong bipartisan support for repeal has continued to build in both chambers of Congress. In March, the Senate voted to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF for the first time by passing S. 316 from Sens. Tim Kaine (VA) and Todd Young (IN) with a strong bipartisan vote of 66-30.
An identical House bill (H.R. 932) led by Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Chip Roy (TX-21), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Tom Cole currently has 64 cosponsors, 26 of whom are Republicans. This is the largest number of Republican cosponsors a 2002 Iraq AUMF repeal has ever received.
Rep. Roy has signaled his intent to hold McCarthy’s feet to the fire, saying, “[I] believe very strongly on the word of the Republican leadership… that we will address [the 2002 Iraq AUMF], and it is my firm intent to ensure that we do.”
Support for repealing the decades-old Iraq war authorization also extends to the executive branch. President Joe Biden has publicly expressed his support for repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF multiple times, most recently in a March 2023 Statement of Administration Policy endorsing the Kaine-Young Senate bill. Repeal is clearly the preference of the majority of Congress and the President; it’s just a matter of mustering the political will to get it done.
Advocates Will Continue Pushing for Repeal on Multiple Fronts
One additional route exists to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF this year. Sen. Kaine introduced a repeal amendment for the Senate’s version of the NDAA. While it faces strong opposition from several key Republican lawmakers, should that amendment receive a vote on the Senate floor, it will likely pass and give Congress two viable routes for sending a repeal measure to President Biden’s desk.
FCNL will continue to engage with this critical effort to reassert Congress’s constitutional war powers, end our forever wars, and foster a world where peace is possible.