Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., left, and Todd Young, R-Ind., are seen in the Capitol subway before the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Photo By )
A remarkable thing happened in Washington Thursday morning, especially given the vituperative atmosphere of politics today. Legislators introduced substantive legislation that is good policy, and a policy that The Heritage Foundation has been advocating for years.
A large bipartisan group of 22 Senators introduced legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Iraq Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF.
Repealing the two AUMFs is sound policy. As we have written previously, these two war authorizations remain in force, even though their purposes were accomplished a long time ago.
Sources inform me that the votes to repeal both AUMFs are secured so that the measure will pass the Senate.
Similarly, in the House, Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Chip Roy, R-Texas, have joined forces with Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to repeal the two vestigial war authorizations as well. It’s remarkable that these four House members could agree on anything, yet commendable that they agree that reclaiming war powers for authorizations that have outlived their usefulness is important.
Recall that Lee was the only member of the House of Representatives who voted against the 9/11 war authorization, which is still being used to fight against al Qaeda and associated forces. It would not be affected if the 1991 and 2002 Iraq AUMFs are repealed.
Repeal would not affect the 2001 AUMF, the primary statutory authority for the ongoing war against al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, or associated forces.
Debating and repealing the two Iraq AUMFs is a matter of congressional hygiene and gets Congress back in the business of exercising its Article I, Sec. 8, Clause 11 war powers, which it has been loathe to do for far too long.
Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have patiently but persistently pushed for repeal. I hosted them for a discussion on the topic at Heritage in 2021, which was carried live on C-SPAN.
In the past, Sen. Mitch McConnell has been against repealing the two Iraq AUMFs. He has argued that repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF won’t solve the terrorist threat. But that misses the point, as no one has asserted that repealing both Iraq AUMFs would do that.
Furthermore, repealing the two AUMFs is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that Congress is back in the business of exercising its war power authority.
As Young told me today, “Iraq is a strategic partner of the United States in advancing the security and stability of the Middle East. Sadly, according to these laws that are still on the books, Iraq is still technically an enemy of the United States. This inconsistency and inaccuracy should be corrected.”
Partnering with Iraq and countering Iran via that partnership is in our national security interest.
That is why 11 Senate Republican co-sponsors joined forces to push for repeal, knowing that it would send a loud message to McConnell that this time they have the votes.
Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to move fast on the repeal effort, which, if the votes are there, would leave McConnell powerless to stop the legislation.
At a time when China is building up its military, increasing its unlawful surveillance activities against the United States, and eyeing Taiwan, our Congress needs to get serious about exercising its constitutional prerogative to declare war and/or authorize the use of military force. Repealing outdated war authorizations is a step in the right direction.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal