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House votes to repeal 2002 AUMF in effort to rein in presidential war powers


(WASHINGTON) — The House voted Thursday to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, a nearly two-decade old war powers measure that gave clearance to then-President George W. Bush’s plans to invade Iraq.

The 2002 AUMF allows military action to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

The final vote in the House was 268-161.

49 Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting for the bill, which now heads to the Senate.

“Today the House confirmed, in a bipartisan way, that the repeal of an authorization for use of military force that is no longer applicable does not impede our national security. Circumstances on the ground in Iraq have changed dramatically since passage of the 2002 AUMF. Significantly, we now count the democratic Iraqi government our partner in our counterterrorism mission – as such, it is time to repeal this authority,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said in a statement Thursday.

“While today’s vote moves us one step closer to a full repeal of this outdated AUMF, there is more work to be done. I have said before that repeal of the 2002 AUMF is not enough. I continue to be encouraged by the Biden-Harris Administration’s willingness to address outdated authorities. I look forward to working with the Administration and with my colleagues in Congress in reviewing existing authorities,” he said.

Lawmakers have in recent years attempted to reign in wide-ranging authorities given to the president after the 9/11 terror attacks. The Trump administration cited the 2002 AUMF in part for its legal justification in the 2020 drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The 2001 AUMF – issued to allow the president to order the invasion of Afghanistan – is still in effect. Lawmakers hope to repeal this order soon, as well.

The House voted last year and in 2019 to repeal the 2002 AUMF, but it was never given a vote in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday signaled that he supported a repeal of the 2002 AUMF and said he planned to bring the measure to a vote this year.

With the Iraq War over for nearly a decade, the 2002 authorization, and its use as a primary justification for military action, has lost its vital purpose, Schumer said this week.

The White House also backs the effort.

“The administration supports the repeal of the 2002 AUMF [authorization for the use of military force], as the United States has no ongoing military activities the rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis, and repeal of the 2002 AUMF would likely have minimal impact on current military operations,” the White House said Monday in a statement of administration policy.

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