U.S. Senate rejects bid to repeal 2001 war authorization – Reuters

Decades-old legislation has been invoked to justify US military operations in at least 22 countries

The US Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to repeal a 2001 law that has been interpreted as granting sweeping wartime powers to the White House. Several presidents have cited the same measure as the legal basis for dozens of military interventions around the world for more than 20 years.

Introduced by Republican Senator Rand Paul to mark the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, an amendment to overturn the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) was defeated in a vote 9 votes to 86 this week. Only four lawmakers from each party, along with independent Senator Bernie Sanders, backed the legislation.

“Today I offered the United States Senate a chance to repeal the 9/11 war authorization to reclaim our constitutional power and send a message to the world that we are a nation of peace,” Paul said in a statement after Wednesday’s vote. “We should have risen above symbolism and…showed our respect for the Constitution, our loyalty to the rule of law and our sincere desire that peace, not perpetual war, be our legacy.”

The amendment would have repealed the U.S. War in Afghanistan authorization — which remains in effect even after U.S. forces withdraw from the country in 2021 — and ultimately repealed the AUMF itself after a six-month period. After that, the libertarian-leaning Republican said “Congress could debate exactly where and how to authorize the future force.”

The AUMF was signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001, just days after al-Qaeda militants launched hijacked airliners at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. . While the bill was supposed to approve military action against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks, it has been invoked by every president since Bush to sanction more than 40 different foreign interventions, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The broad language of the law has also been interpreted to justify operations targeting both al-Qaeda and its “associated forces” although it doesn’t actually contain the phrase. Nevertheless, Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden have acted on this broader reading, using the AUMF for military actions in at least 22 countries since 2001, beginning with Afghanistan.

Senator Paul vowed to continue efforts to repeal the authorization, insisting that Congress, not the president, is supposed to have war powers under the Constitution. He also co-sponsored a largely symbolic bill to revoke the separate AUMFs of 1991 and 2002, in hopes of officially ending the Gulf and Iraq wars. It enjoys some bipartisan support and was recently approved out of committee in a 13-8 vote, perhaps signaling it will fare better than Paul’s amendment.

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