A bipartisan bill introduced Wednesday would repeal the 2002 Iraq War authorization in the wake of President Biden’s decision to bomb facilities in Syria that were allegedly used by an Iran-backed militia.
The largely symbolic bill was introduced by four Senate Democrats and four Senate Republicans led by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers,” Kaine said in a press release.
The bill also would repeal the 1991 Gulf War resolution. But it would leave intact an expansive 2001 authorization for war against al-Qaeda, which presidents have interpreted as allowing airstrikes across the globe and fighting against rival jihadist network ISIS.
Iraq War double amputee Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “For decades, administrations of both parties have kept these authorizations on the books to justify military action in the region without returning to Congress to make their best legal case for the need for such action.”
Co-sponsor Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, “when authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) remain on the books long past a conflict’s conclusion they become ripe for abuse, expanding far beyond congressional intent.”
Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are original co-sponsors.
The bill would not meaningfully limit Biden’s authority but it would be a rare victory for advocates of limiting US intervention in the Middle East. Courts generally dismiss any challenge to presidential war-making, saying it’s an issue for Congress to address.
Biden did not cite the 1991 or 2002 war authorizations — or the 2001 anti-al-Qaeda authorization — when he bombed Syria in his first airstrikes as president.
Instead, Biden cited a more controversial claim that he launched the attack pursuant to his constitutional authority to protect the country as commander in chief — a contention previously used by former President Barack Obama to commit the US military to the 2011 civil war that toppled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Biden said that the attack was intended to deter a Shiite militia group from attacking US troops inside Iraq.
Biden wrote to Congress, “I directed this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.”