Schumer: Time is ‘now’ to repeal Iraq War resolution

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he will schedule a vote soon to repeal the 2002 Iraq War resolution, a proposal that has strong bipartisan support but has languished in Congress for years.

Schumer announced Tuesday after a meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus that he will move to fulfill his pledge to wipe the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) from the books, so that President Biden or any future president would need new authorization from Congress to launch military operations in Iraq.

“It’s … my plan to hold a vote on repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF. I made a commitment to have a vote on it earlier this year by the end of the year and the time for that is now. Repealing the AUMF is also bipartisan and I think we can get the votes we need to pass it,” he said.

He noted that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Republican Sen. Todd Young (Ind.) are leading the bipartisan effort.

The planned vote is a huge win for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has been pushing for Congress to retire war resolutions that were passed nearly two decades ago under President George W. Bush at the start of the so-called Global War on Terrorism.

“If you leave a war authorization on the books when its purpose is expired, I call it a zombie authorization. It is legal authority out there for a president to grab and use to justify military action and bypass Congress,” Kaine said. “When the need for an authorization is over we need to retire it so that it’s not used by a future president to bypass Congress.

Schumer announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated over the weekend that the vote to repeal the Iraq War resolution would come on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate will begin debating on Wednesday.

“I made a commitment to having a vote on this proposal in 2021 and the NDAA is a logical place to have that vote,” Schumer wrote in his letter.

The vote on repealing the authorization for military force would depend, however, on getting an agreement with Republicans for voting on amendments.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) predicted Tuesday there would likely be GOP objections to allowing a vote on repealing the war authorization.

“I suspect there will be objections to that. I can’t imagine we wouldn’t have some folks in our … national security circles who wouldn’t have objections,” he said.

Kaine said the schedule for finishing the defense authorization bill is “still a little bit unclear.”

“The idea would be to try to finish the NDAA before Thanksgiving. It could be later this week, it could be into Friday or Saturday, it could be early next week. But the idea would be to try to get NDAA done before Thanksgiving and it just depends how quickly and how many amendments we can take up as we get to the latter part of this week,” he said.

Kaine explained his amendment would repeal both the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force against Iraq.

Biden announced in July that his administration would formally conclude all U.S. combat operations in Iraq by the end of the year. 

Jordain Carney contributed.

Tags Afghanistan War Bob Menendez Charles Schumer Iraq War Joe Biden John Thune NDAA Tim Kaine Todd Young
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