Congress has grown too accustomed to allowing the president to use military force as he sees fit over the last two decades, says Indiana Sen. Todd Young (R-IN).
Since 2001, Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden have been citing authorities granted to them by Congress under the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force as a means to carry out military operations in the Middle East in curtailing terrorist groups.
All well and good, said Sen. Young at Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, but he is urging Congress to repeal the 2002 AUMF along with the 1991 AUMF in order for Congress to regain its foothold on having input on making decisions regarding acts of war.
“For decades, Congress has been content to cede our Constitutionally mandated role of approving wars to the Executive Branch,” Young said. “Despite the war in Iraq being over for years, and the Government of Iraq now being our partner, the authorities for that war remain on the books and open to potential abuses.”
The 2002 AUMF was passed in October of 2002 as a means to allow President Bush to use the U.S. military to enforce United Nations resolutions regarding Iraq and then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain. It has since been cited several times as a means to carry out military attacks against Iranian-backed groups in the middle east by subsequent presidents.
An example is President Trump’s citing of the 2002 AUMF, as a “secondary authority” according to Young, in order to carry out an attack in Iraq that resulted in the death of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in January of 2020.
Young believes these military attacks, though warranted, show that the 2002 AUMF is being abused in order to carry out acts of war without the consent of Congress.
“Those advocating for leaving 2002 (AUMF) in place as a means of deterring Iran, when that was in no way the intention of this authorization, would be building on past abuses and advocating for precisely the expansion of war power authorities that ultimately makes Congress and this committee irrelevant,” said Young.
Young is joining a push from Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine to repeal both AUMF’s. But, he is proposing passing a new AUMF in order to allow President Biden to carry out any use of force he deems fit against Iranian-backed terrorist groups.
His fellow Republicans are not so keen on the idea though. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said at the hearing that the repeal of the 2002 AUMF would be used as “justification for going soft on Iran.” Sen. Mike Rounds (R) of South Dakota said he’s concerned a repeal without a replacement would limit the U.S’s ability to “malign influence of Iran in the Middle East.”
Ultimately, the panel voted 18-14 to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 AUMF’s. The consideration now goes to the full Senate.