House Passes Historic Bill Ending Military Authorization in Iraq

Legislation that would end the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq or in situations where U.S. interests are impacted in that region of the world, passed within the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The vote on the bill was technically bipartisan, with 49 Republicans joining 219 Democrats in the House.

The bill, which ends the AUMF that was originally passed in 2002 during the run-up to the war in Iraq, has the support of lawmakers in the Senate as well. The White House has also signaled that President Joe Biden would sign the bill into law if it reached his desk.

“The administration supports the repeal of the 2002 AUMF, as the United States has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis,” the White House said in a statement earlier this week.

“The Iraq War has been over for nearly a decade. The authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

Ending the AUMF would prevent future administrations from “reaching back into the legal dustbin to use it as a justification for military adventurism,” Schumer added. The AUMF from 2002 has been cited to justify actions by both the Obama and Trump administrations, with former President Donald Trump’s White House most recently using it to defend the military strikes that targeted Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani in January 2020.

The White House has said it wants to go further, eliminating other authorizations that still exist and creating a new framework for how the U.S. military can act in the future. An earlier AUMF, passed just days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, still remains in force, and the authorization from the first war in Iraq in 1991 is still technically on the books.

Activists, organizations and Congress members opposed to the endless wars are calling for those authorizations to be repealed, too.

“Once we pass a repeal of the 2002 AUMF, we must keep up our fight to repeal the 2001 AUMF so that no future president has the unilateral power to plunge us into endless wars,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) said.

“Congress must repeal not only the 2002 but also the more important and even more disastrous 2001 #AUMF, end the #WarOnTerror and repeal the #PatriotAct, and impose strict limits on Presidential authority to make war,” Massachusetts Peace Action tweeted out earlier this year.

The 2002 AUMF, passed months before the U.S. began its military operations in Iraq in 2003, gives the president broad and generalized power to “use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to — (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” Biden, who is now calling for its repeal, had originally voted in favor of the AUMF.