June 16, 2021

Menendez, Kaine, Young Announce Foreign Relations Committee Will Vote to Repeal 1991 and 2002 AUMFs

WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was joined by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) in issuing the following statements to announce the Committee will take up their bipartisan legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Iraq Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) at the next business meeting scheduled for June 22, 2021:  

“The decision to authorize the use of military force is the most important vote that any Member of Congress can take. It is a vote to send America’s sons and daughter into harm’s way, and we must never take that responsibility lightly. Similarly, the weight of rescinding that decision also demands our full attention and timely consideration,” said Chairman Menendez. “The fact is our service members in Iraq completed their authorized combat mission with distinction  more than a decade ago. As someone who voted against the war in Iraq, I believe it is well past time for the U.S. Congress to meet its obligation by repealing these open-ended AUMFs that are subject to abuse. This does not mean there is not an appropriate role for our troops in Iraq; but we must recalibrate our relationship with Iraq, putting our diplomatic efforts in the lead, in support of and in coordination with the Iraqi people. I am grateful for Senators Kaine and Young’s leadership in this effort and look forward to taking up their bipartisan legislation at the committee’s June 22 business meeting.” 

“I am grateful to finally see action on repealing these outdated AUMFs—an issue that has long been important to me,” said Senator Kaine. “So much has changed since 1991 and 2002: Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone; the Gulf and Iraq Wars are over; and Iraq is now a close security partner who should not be labeled an enemy state. Foreign Relations Committee action on our AUMF repeal bill represents a bipartisan recognition of these truths and a widespread desire to not keep old war authorizations on the books.” 

“This is the most critical vote that any Member of Congress could be asked to take. I was a young Sailor when Congress first authorized military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1991, and yet in the past three decades Congress has not exercised its essential duty to officially terminate this authority and avoid it being left open to abuse. Repealing this authority, together with the 2002 authorization to go back into Iraq, is as important as any decision to wage war. Congress must assert its rights as a co-equal branch of government and ensure that our brave men and women in uniform are sent into war with the full backing and support of the American people’s elected representatives in Congress,” said Senator Young. “Our service members heroically toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein and now it is time for Congress to do our part and take these outdated authorities off the books. Repealing the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs will also send a clear diplomatic signal that the United States is no longer an adversary of Iraq, but a partner. I’m grateful for the leadership of Senator Kaine in working on this important issue with me, and I look forward to a strong, bipartisan vote in the Foreign Relations Committee.”

The 1991 AUMF gave the President of the United States the authority to use force against Iraq to enforce a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) passed in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  Later, with the 2002 AUMF, Congress authorized the President to use U.S. armed forces against the Saddam Hussein regime as “necessary and appropriate” to “defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and to “enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” 

Introduced earlier this year, the bipartisan bill is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

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