US votes to repeal 2002 Iraq use of force authorisation

US House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq use of force authorisation
2 min read
17 June, 2021
Efforts to repeal a 2002 US authorisation for use of military force against Iraq got a boost Thursday when the US House of Representatives backed the idea.
Supporters of the repeal say the AUMF has long outlived its purpose [Getty]

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal a 2002 use-of-force measure that gave the US military the legal authority to invade Iraq, in a bipartisan effort that has earned support from Joe Biden's White House.

The vote of 268-161 now sends the repeal of the authorisation of the use of military force, or AUMF, to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.

While the chamber's top Democrat Chuck Schumer expressed support on the Senate floor for the repeal, the first time he has done so publicly, he said he would bring the issue to a vote sometime this year.

The House voted in 2020 and 2019 to do away with the AUMF that authorised president George W. Bush to use military force against Saddam Hussein's regime, but it was never taken up in the Senate, which was under Republican control.

Bipartisan momentum for the repeal appears to be growing, with supporters saying the AUMF has long outlived its purpose and that Congress should reclaim its war-making powers.

"Today's historic vote is a turning point," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks told colleagues just before the vote. "I look forward to Congress no longer taking a back seat on some of the most consequential decisions our nation can make."

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The White House said this week it backs the repeal because the United States has "no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis and that ending the AUMF would likely have "minimal impact" on current military operations.

But opponents argue that ending the authorisation - which has been used to justify military action against forces linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban - would embolden adversaries and hamstring counterterrorism missions.

The House voted for repeal in 2020 and 2019, but it was never taken up in the Senate, which was under Republican control.

Today Democrats control the 50-50 Senate by the narrowest of margins, and would need 10 Republicans to join them to overcome blocking tactics.