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House votes to repeal 2002 authorization of war in Iraq

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Washington — The House on Thursday approved a bill to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in Iraq, a measure which has the backing of the White House and is gaining momentum nearly 20 years after Congress approved voted to approve the U.S. invasion.

The bill passed by a vote of 268 to 161, with 49 Republicans voting for the repeal, and only one Democrat voting against it. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will bring it to the floor for a vote this year.

The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the sole member of Congress to vote against the broad 2001 war authorization targeting Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The House voted to repeal the 2002 authorization against Iraq last year, but it was not taken up in the Senate and was opposed by the Trump administration.

"After nearly 20 years of fighting for this, we're finally one step closer to ending forever wars," Lee wrote on Twitter after the bill passed.

Lee has also introduced a bill to repeal the 2001 authorization, and said that "we must keep up our fight to repeal the 2001 AUMF so that no future president has the unilateral power to plunge us into endless wars."

The White House's Office of Management and Budget on Monday released a statement endorsing the bill to repeal the 2002 authorization on Monday, saying that the U.S. "has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis, and repeal of the 2002 AUMF would likely have minimal impact on current military operations."

"Furthermore, the President is committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework appropriate to ensure that we can continue to protect Americans from terrorist threats," the White House said.

Schumer announced his support for the bill for the first time in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

"The Iraq war has been over for nearly a decade, and authorization passed in 2002 is no longer necessary in 2021," Schumer said, adding that repealing the authorization "will eliminate the danger of a future administration reaching back into the legal dustbin to use it as a justification for military adventurism."

Schumer said that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would take up a bill to repeal the 2002 and 1991 war authorizations in Iraq next week, which were introduced by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Senator Todd Young. He also said that he intended to bring the bills to the floor for a vote before the end of the year.

The House version does not repeal the 1991 authorization, but Kaine said that it would be possible for the House and Senate to meet in conference to craft an acceptable bill.

"The House version is slightly different, but there's no controversy between us. We could I think easily conference an acceptable one to both sides and hopefully put it on President Biden's desk," Kaine told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. He argued that authorizations had been "used for mischief," such as former President Donald Trump's justification for the strike on Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last year.

"We pass them and then they just float out there like these zombies that can be used for mischief," Kaine said.

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