Twenty years after Congress declared war on Iraq, the United States Senate voted Wednesday to formally end the war.
The Senate voted 66-30 to end two Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq. Indiana Senator Todd Young is co-sponsoring the bill.
The first AUMF was approved over 30 years ago for the 1991 Gulf War, the second was in 2002 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sen. Young says that things have changed over the decades. “Twenty years ago Iraq was our enemy. Today, Iraq is a strategic partner – an ally – in advancing stability across the middle east,” Young said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Letting the AUMFs stay on the books sends a poor message about Congress’ powers to declare and end wars, and also Sen. Young said, they can lead to abuse of the powers they grant.
“Presidents of both parties have employed specious legal reasoning and used them as a justification for military interventions wholly unrelated to their original missions,” Young said.
“So here’s the choice before us: we repeal these authorizations, we restore a part of our system of checks and balances. Or we let them live on, extending a permanent blank check for presidents to bypass Congress and authorize military action.”
“This is an important moment for the Senate and our nation,” Sen. Young said after the bill was passed by the Senate. “Passage of this bill with strong bipartisan support takes us a step closer to restoring the proper role of Congress in authorizing military force and affirmatively stating when conflicts are over…I want to thank Senator Kaine for his tireless work and partnership for years on this bill. I also want to thank my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of this issue for the constructive conversation as we debated this legislation. Finally, I want to thank the men and women who served in the Gulf and Iraq wars. We are forever grateful for your service.”
Now the bill moves to the House for a vote.