(Bloomberg) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would repeal the authorizations for the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq in a move that shows how far the two political parties have traveled on issues of war and the power to wage it.
The panel backed the legislation 14-8 with Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky joining Democrats in support of the measure.
“Congresses of both parties have abdicated our responsibility regarding the power to declare war and allowed president of both parties to act unilaterally,” said Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and cosponsor of the measure. “Congressional action to repeal these authorizations will represent a step toward Congress taking its most solemn responsibility seriously.”
Those who opposed the measure cast a wary eye toward Iran. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, offered an amendment he said would make clear that President Joe Biden has the authority to respond to acts of aggression by the Iranian government or its proxy forces.
Senator Robert Menendez, of New Jersey, the panel’s chairman, called the Cruz amendment “far too expansive” and opposed it. It was defeated.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the 2002 authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, “has far outlived its usefulness” and that it “should not just lie around forever,” potentially giving a future administration license to start a war. Schumer said he intends to bring up a vote on repeal on the Senate floor later this year.
While the focus of the debate was on the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs for Iraq, some senators clearly had in mind a broader target: the 2001 authorization for military action in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That authorization aimed at al-Qaeda has been stretched by successive administrations to justify action against other terrorist groups including Islamic State.
Senator Ben Cardin, a Delaware Democrat, said he planned to introduce legislation that would phase out the 2001 AUMF to give the administration and Congress time to enact a replacement but start a clock to give them clear incentive to act.
Wendy Sherman, the deputy Secretary of State, told members of the committee during a hearing Tuesday that the Biden administration is willing to revise the 2001 AUMF with input from Congress.
”We do believe revising the 2001 AUMF is appropriate,” she said.
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