March 08, 2023

Ahead of the 20th Anniversary of Iraq War, Duckworth, Durbin Applaud Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Repeal 1991 and 2002 AUMFs, Formally Ending Gulf and Iraq Wars


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations (SFRC) Committee, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), today applauded committee passage of bipartisan legislation, led by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN), to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs), formally ending the Gulf and Iraq wars. The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs—which passed 32 and 20 years ago, respectively—authorized the use of force for the Gulf and Iraq wars, but Congress has failed to repeal these AUMFs, leaving them subject to potential misuse by the Executive Branch. The bill would reassert Congress’ constitutional role in deciding whether and when to send our servicemembers into harm’s way and enhance the relationship the United States now has with a sovereign, democratic Iraq.

“One of Congress’s most solemn constitutional responsibilities is deciding when and how we choose to send America’s sons and daughters into danger overseas,” said Duckworth. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war, we are long overdue to have a thorough and honest reckoning about responsibly exercising Congressional war powers, which includes repealing outdated authorities like the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs. 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. I’m proud we passed this bipartisan legislation out of committee and hope we can quickly get it to the floor for a full Senate vote.”

“The Constitution is clear – only the U.S. Congress has the power to declare war.  But for too long, Congress has refused to take this responsibility seriously,” said Durbin. “Presidents of both parties have taken advantage of outdated AUMFs to justify military action without congressional approval while Congress has sat idly by, happy to avoid hard votes.  We must break this habit.  That begins by finally repealing the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs to end the Gulf and Iraq wars once and for all.  I’m glad to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee take the first step towards this goal today.”

“Although the 1991 Gulf and 2002 Iraq wars are over and Iraq is no longer an enemy, the Authorizations for Use of Military Force remain on the books,” said Kaine. “Congress has a constitutional and moral responsibility to repeal them so that future presidents can’t use these authorizations as a blank check to send servicemembers into harm’s way. I’m glad we’re one step closer today to repealing these outdated and unnecessary AUMFs. I welcomed Majority Leader Schumer’s commitment to bring our bill to the Senate floor in coming weeks, and I urge my colleagues to pass our bipartisan bill so we can formally end the Gulf and Iraq wars.”

“I am encouraged by today’s vote, and it is now time to bring this legislation to the Senate floor. Later this month, we will mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Today, Iraq is a partner of the United States and critical to efforts to counter Iran. Repealing these outdated AUMFs will demonstrate America’s commitment to Iraqi sovereignty. Just as important, it is vital to restoring the proper role of Congress in authorizing the use of military force and affirmatively stating when conflicts are over,” said Young.

Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She is a Purple Heart recipient and one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For years, Duckworth has spoken out about repealing the AUMFs and has joined bipartisan efforts to get this done.

Durbin has been a leading voice in Congress on the need to repeal outdated AUMFs to prevent potential misuse and has raised concerns over the use of military force without congressional authorization. Durbin was one of only 23 Senators to vote against the 2002 Iraq War authorization.

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin, Kaine and Young, the Senate bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Angus King (I-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mike Braun (R-IN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Jack Reed (D-RI), and J.D. Vance (R-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Full text of the bill is available here.