Senate votes to uphold 2001 authorization for War on Terror

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to uphold congressional authorization for the use of military force in the global fight against terrorism, reversing an effort by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to repeal the 2001 measure.

Senators rejected Amendment 86-9 as they debate a separate repeal of two military force authorizations in Iraq. There is broad bipartisan support for withdrawing this congressional approval granted in 1991 and 2002 for military strikes against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

While these two authorizations are rarely used and focused on a single country, Iraq, the 2001 measure gave President George W. Bush broad authority for the invasion of Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism, approving force “against such nations, organizations or persons”. who planned or aided in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Adopted in October 2001, it is still used to this day to justify American military action against terrorist groups – including al-Qaeda and its affiliates, such as the Islamic State and al-Shabab – which are considered a threat. against America.

The 2002 measure that launched the invasion of Iraq 20 years ago this week has been used far less frequently, and supporters of its repeal say it is vulnerable to abuse. President Joe Biden has said he supports this repeal.

Senators from both parties have said they could eventually override the 2001 War on Terror authorization and curb its authority, but argued it shouldn’t be repealed altogether. “We haven’t had that substantive discussion yet,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, DN.J., said before the vote on the amendment.

Paul said that by repealing only the Iraqi clearances, Congress is “missing the point” since Hussein’s regime no longer exists. By leaving the 2001 measure in place, Congress maintains the authorization that approves “war everywhere, all the time,” he said.

The Senate is expected to vote next week to repeal the two Iraqi measures. In a test vote this week, 19 Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the legislation.

It’s unclear whether leaders in the Republican-controlled House will put the bill to a vote, even if it passes the Senate. Forty-nine House Republicans backed legislation repealing Iraqi authorities when then-majority Democrats held a vote two years ago, but current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., got away with it. then opposed.

McCarthy signaled this week that he was prepared to back the measure, but it’s unclear whether House Republicans will move the Senate bill without any changes. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said he was interested in replacing the two Iraqi clearances instead of simply repealing them, a move that is unlikely to be supported by the Senate.

McCaul met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., on Wednesday on military force clearances and other issues.

“I’m going to be a substitute,” he said after the meeting. “I’ll see what management does.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic lead author of the Senate bill to repeal clearances for Iraq, said he thinks bipartisan support in the House could shift votes. Noting McCarthy’s newfound openness, he said he saw the House as “better and better every day” on the issue.

Kaine and Indiana Sen. Todd Young, the Indiana Republican who is also leading the campaign, have argued that the repeal will help the United States’ strategic partnership with Iraq.

“I think that relationship is not lost on some of the members who were now ready to vote for repeal,” Kaine said.

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro, Ellen Knickmeyer and Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.

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