The United States Senate made a major symbolic move this week to restrict presidential power to use force overseas. Senators voted this week to repeal the 2002 authorization of the use of force against Iraq.
The effort passed the chamber 66-30, gaining considerable bipartisan support. This also marks one of the largest Congressional actions regarding presidential powers in foreign policy since the War Powers Act of 1973.
While many Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill backed the effort, the repeal is also backed by the Biden administration.
The White House issued a statement that said that President Biden was “committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework more appropriate to protecting Americans from modern terrorist threats.”
Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) voted in favor of the 2002 authorization of the use of force.
March marked 20 years since the start of the U.S.-led effort to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein, which led to more than a decade of war in the country.
The successful effort in the Senate also overturned the 1991 use of force authorization from that year’s Persian Gulf War.
After being questioned by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the 2002 use of force resolution was no longer necessary, saying that the military still had the ability to “do what we need to do.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 29, 2023
Congress has not repealed the 2001 authorization of the use of military force passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. This resolution was passed with one lone dissenting vote in Congress and authorized military action in Afghanistan and against what the U.S. government deemed to be global terrorist organizations.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced an amendment to repeal the 2001 authorization last week but received only nine votes in the Senate in support.
Dr. Paul said that repealing the authorizations for the use of force “returns the war power to the American people and their representatives.”