US Senate moves toward ending ‘forever war’ authorizations

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A US Senate committee will consider legislation next week that would repeal two authorizations for past wars in Iraq, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday, in a renewed push to reassert Congress’ role in deciding to send troops into combat.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, Schumer said, paving the way for a possible vote in the full Senate before members leave for the April recess, Schumer said.

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“We need to put the Iraq war squarely behind us once and for all, and doing that means we should extinguish the legal authority that initiated the war to begin with,” Schumer said.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation to repeal the two longstanding AUMFs in early February.

Members of Congress have been arguing for years that legislators have ceded too much authority to the president over whether troops should be sent into combat, by passing and then failing to repeal broad, open-ended war authorizations that presidents have then used for years to justify military action around the globe.

For example, Republican then-President Donald Trump said the 2002 AUMF provided legal authority for the 2020 killing of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war.

But the measure’s chances of becoming law were unclear. Members of Congress have been divided over whether it is better for national security to let the AUMFs stand, leaving it to military commanders to decide how to fight America’s enemies or insisting that new AUMFs pass before old ones end.

Previous repeal efforts have not succeeded, although some have made it through committees or been passed by one chamber of Congress.

Read more: US diplomat Sherman backs moves to end ‘forever war’ authorizations

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