Yay! House Votes To Repeal Bad Iraq War Authorization
Back in 2002, the United States Congress fucked up really, really badly. They gave George W. Bush, who was at that time the most stupid and reckless person to ever hold the office of president, full authority to go ahead and invade Iraq for oil and Daddy issues. Ever since then, largely as a result of that authorization, the US has been mired in various forever wars in the Middle East. Because it wasn't just an authorization for Bush to do whatever he wanted in that particular instance — it was an authorization for any US president to do anything so long as it was done in the name of "defending U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq."
But today, the House voted to repeal that very bad legislation. Hooray!
The bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who you may recall was one of the few in Congress who was right about the Iraq War from the beginning and voted against authorization both times.
"It's been such a long time coming," Lee said ahead of Thursday's vote. "It's Congress' responsibility to authorize the use of force, and that authorization cannot be blank checks that stay as authorizations for any administration to use the way they see fit."
Lee's legislation drew bipartisan support. Her repeal of the 2002 authority, which was issued on Oct. 16 of that year, had more than 130 co-sponsors.
I am actually welling up a little here. Barbara Lee had the courage to oppose the war at the very beginning when so many others did not — she didn't just vote against it, she was outspoken about opposing it at a time when so many of her colleagues were terrified of doing anything that might cause someone to say they were unpatriotic, at a time when those who opposed the invasion were portrayed by the media as being ridiculous and "unserious" at best and seditious at worst. Even Jon Stewart was making fun of people who opposed it.
jon stewart's early iraq war coverage was really bad lol https://t.co/oNScga0uoO— jacob (@jacob)1616177373.0
So the prematurely correct Barbara Lee deserves the hell out of this moment, and should in fact get an award of some kind on top of it. And an apology.
In case you do not recall how bad the 2002 AUMF was, here you go:
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 - Expresses support for the President's efforts to: (1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and (2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion, and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
Authorizes the President to use the U.S. armed forces to: (1) defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. Directs the President, prior to or as soon as possible (but no later than 48 hours) after exercising such authority, to make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that: (1) reliance on further diplomatic or peaceful means alone will not achieve the above purposes; and (2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization for use of the armed forces, consistent with requirements of the War Powers Resolution.
Lee and others hope that this will also lead to the repeal of the 2001 Authorization of Military Force issued after 9/11, which is also very bad. Lee was, notably, the only House member to vote against that bullshit (although 133 House members and 23 Senators voted against the 2002 resolution).
Such measures have been passed by the House before but they've always been killed by Republicans in the Senate. Now that Democrats have a majority in the Senate, there's an actual chance of it passing, which would be a very good thing. Even if Manchin and Sinema tried to tank it — Sinema was an antiwar activist, but who knows anymore these days? — the universal unpopularity of the Iraq War could push enough Republicans to sign on that they wouldn't matter.
In fact, Tim Kaine is the author of a similar Senate bill, which is co-sponsored by like four Republicans — which is still not 10, so we'll have to see on that!
Via USA Today:
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the chief sponsor of a Senate bill to repeal the Iraq measure, said he couldn't remember the last time Congress repealed a war authorization. Kaine's co-sponsor is Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana.
"We pass them and then they just float out there like these zombies that can be used for mischief," Kaine told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. He said the prospects for Senate passage are "very high" and he expects significant GOP support
The legislation is supported by the White House as well.
However, Mitch McConnell still isn't sure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier on Thursday warned that Democrats leading the charge on the repeal are ignoring a critical step addressing how the U.S. will fight against terrorists going forward.
For example, McConnell said that debate also needed to happen before President Biden rolled out his "hasty" plans to leave Afghanistan this year.
"Reality is more complicated, more dangerous, and less politically convenient than its supporters believe," McConnell said. "The fact of the matter is the legal and practical application of the 2002 AUMF extends far beyond the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime. And tossing it aside without answering real questions about our ongoing efforts in the region is reckless."
He is correct. To borrow a turn of phrase, it should not be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force.
But we should thank Mitch for his opposition to this. The only people who have been held to account for their bad Iraq War votes have been Democrats. As soon as things turned bad, the Right went from worshiping Dubya to "We don't know her" and pretending that Hillary Clinton was personally responsible for the whole thing happening in the first place.
This way, Republicans voting against this can be held to account for their votes against a thing that absolutely no one wants anymore. More of this, please.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse