House Votes to Repeal Its Authorization for the First Gulf War

The U.S. House voted to repeal an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq enacted in 1991 for the first Gulf War amid a broad reexamination of deployments in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The vote Tuesday come on the heels of airstrikes ordered by President Joe Biden against Iranian-backed militia over the weekend in Iraq and Syria. Biden said he carried out the strikes under his constitutional authority as commander in chief, and lawmakers were divided on whether he needed congressional approval.

The House resolution, sponsored by Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat and former CIA officer, is just one sentence: “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution is hereby repealed.”

“We must remove this old, inactive authority from the books,” Spanberger said on the House floor before her measure was approved as part of a package of bills on a 366-46 vote. “Repealing this AUMF would help ensure that it is not misused or stretched by any American president going forward.”

The House voted two weeks ago to repeal the authorization for the 2002 invasion of Iraq. That authorization, and an earlier one giving the president authority to take military action in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., kicked off more than two decades of intense military involvement in the region, often without a clear end in sight.

The Senate has yet to act on the repeal measures.

As most U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, ending what has been America’s longest war, members of Congress are revisiting previous authorizations. They have focused their attention not only on ongoing operations in trouble spots including Iraq but the the potential for future operations based on authorities that many in both parties call outdated.

“We cannot simply allow AUMFs to accumulate without congressional action,” Spanberger said. “We have more work ahead of us as we reassert Congressional War Powers and we reform, repeal, and in some cases, update AUMFs -- but today, we can take an important step by passing my widely supported legislation to repeal a 30-year authorization for the use of military force.”

The passage of the House resolution to repeal the 1991 AUMF brings the chamber closer to a bill under consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that would repeal both the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs. Consideration of that bill by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been postponed until next month pending a briefing on congressional authorities arranged by Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, at the request of several Republican members, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.

That briefing is also expected to address senators’ concerns about the recent airstrikes, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The House also passed a bill to repeal an even earlier authorization for military force in the region, dating to the late 1950s. That bill was sponsored by Representative Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan and Army veteran.

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