The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to repeal the Iraq and Gulf War military force authorizations, which are still in effect years after the conflicts ended.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), passed on a 13-8 vote in the committee.
Kaine said the 1991 Gulf War authorization and the 2002 Iraq War authorization are decades behind the U.S., but they remain on the books and can technically be misused by a sitting president.
“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,” Kaine said in a statement.
The Gulf War ended in 1991 after a brief U.S.-led military campaign in Kuwait and some parts of Iraq. And former President Obama pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011, bringing an end to the 2003 invasion.
Attempts to end the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) for the Gulf War and the Iraq War have been introduced several times before in Congress, including an effort last year that got snagged in congressional business.
There are some signs the AUMF repeals are now picking up steam. A companion bill was introduced in the House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to back the legislation once it comes to the floor.
In a tweet last week, Schumer said “we need to put the Iraq War behind us once and for all.”
“And doing that means we should repeal the legal authority that initiated the war to begin with,” the senator wrote.
In a Wednesday statement, Young said he was “encouraged by today’s vote.”
“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,” Young said. “Repealing these outdated AUMFs will demonstrate America’s commitment to Iraqi sovereignty.”