WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to open debate on a bipartisan bill that would revoke authorizations passed by Congress in 1991 and 2002 for the US wars in Iraq.
Lawmakers voted 68-27 to proceed with the legislation, a measure that required 60 votes and the first of several votes related to the measure.
The bill would repeal authorizations for the use of military force for the 1991 Gulf War under President George HW Bush and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush.
In floor remarks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Thursday that the bill leaves «the last remnants of those conflicts completely behind us.»
«The United States, the nation of Iraq and the entire world have changed dramatically since 2002, and it is time for the laws on the books to catch up with these changes,» he said. «The war in Iraq ended a long time ago. This AUMF has outlived its purpose and we can no longer justify keeping it in place.»
The White House said in a formal notice Thursday that President Joe Biden would sign the legislation if it reached his desk. However, the House would have to vote on it first before that happens, if it passes the Senate.
Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind., are lead sponsors of the measure. In all, 41 senators have cosponsored the bill, including 12 Republicans. Kaine said the Iraqi government supports the legislation, telling reporters: «They see it as an acknowledgment of the new chapter in their relationship and it would be seen as a positive.»
In particular, the bill would not repeal or affect the war authorization that Congress passed in 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which launched the so-called «war on terror.» Since then, US presidents have relied on that measure to authorize various military operations against non-state terrorist organizations that have posed threats to Americans.
Congress has previously been unable to pass the repeal of these war authorizations, largely because of intense division over that 2001 measure. Over the past decade, several lawmakers have called for the repeal of that authorization because, they argued, it is too broad and he has taken advantage of her. But the debate over the measure has been intractable because some members of Congress have wanted to change the language or keep it entirely.
The Senate is expected to continue considering the repeal of the Iraq War authorizations next week and will vote on the amendments. Kaine said those amendments are likely to focus on Iran and Article II, which deals with executive power.
The United States withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011, when Biden was serving as vice president. Biden withdrew US forces from Afghanistan in 2021 in a chaotic and widely criticized operation that ended America’s longest-running war.