A senior Democrat says the votes are there for the Senate to repeal the two Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) used by US forces to justify continued combat operations in Iraq.
Senator Tim Kaine told The Hill on Wednesday that 11 GOP senators plan to either co-sponsor or vote for legislation repealing the two AUMFs passed in 2002 and 1991. The AUMF governing military actions in Afghanistan, from which the US is withdrawing combat forces, remains in effect.
The move is mostly seen as symbolic – as turning the page on one of the most controversial chapters in recent US history – and would be the first time in 50 years that Congress had repealed such an authorisation.
“We think we have 11 who have either co-sponsored or voted for it or told the press they’re going to vote for it”, said the Virginia senator.
A bipartisan bill from Mr Kaine and Senator Todd Young to repeal the AUMFs advanced through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in recent days, and is now headed for the Senate floor.
At least 10 Republican votes would be needed for the bill to avoid a GOP filibuster, provided that every Democrat supported the legislation. Mr Kaine said he expected that to be the case.
The two AUMFs in Iraq were repealed by the House in June, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi; President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
The US has been involved in combat operations in Iraq for nearly two decades, and a repeal of the AUMFs passed in 2002 and 1991 would not significantly change the US presence in the region, as much of the country’s efforts are now devoted to hunting ISIS-aligned militants and militias believed to be aligned with Iran.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed that the measure would be voted on before the end of the year.
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