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House Approves Retracting 1991 Gulf War Authorization

June 30, 2021 by Brock Blasdell
Rep. Abigail Spanberger

WASHINGTON – The House voted Tuesday to pass Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s, D-Va., bipartisan bill to repeal a pair of outdated war authorizations; one for  the 1991 Gulf War and the other a Cold War authorization regarding the Middle East.

The success comes after a series of similar battles fought by Congress to repeal outdated war authorizations and restore its original wartime powers endowed under the Constitution.

“Today, we have another opportunity to demonstrate that Congress is serious about reclaiming congressional war powers — and serious about representing the servicemembers and veterans who have served our country. Too often, they have served under authorities that were signed into law decades previously,” Spanberger said in an address to Congress prior to the vote. “While the Constitution is clear — only Congress can declare war, we have steadily surrendered this responsibility to the executive branch.”

This House approval adds another victory under the belt of those seeking to regain power from these often-outdated wartime authorizations called Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

AUMFs typically get approved by Congress during times of national crisis. Most notably, an AUMF passed in 2001 gave former president George W. Bush the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” to capture those who played any role in fulfilling the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the world trade center. 

The problem with AUMFs arise when they are not repealed in a timely manner, and the powers endowed to Congress by the Constitution for making war become more or less limited to the will of the current president. 

Spanberger has been active in restoring this congressional power since first being elected in 2019. Within her first year of office, she co-sponsored an amendment to stop unauthorized use of military force against Iran, voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2002 AUMF, and led a joint resolution to stop the sale of certain weapons to Saudi Arabia. 

More recently, she helped lead the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would help Congress reclaim its war powers from the 1991 and 2002 Gulf and Iraq wars, as well a lesser known AUMF passed to prevent the spread of communism in the Middle East during the Cold War.

Her current legislation, which was approved unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has received endorsements from prominent foreign policy and military veteran organizations such as the American Legion, VoteVets and Concerned Veterans for America.

“This AUMF was Congress’ authorization for the First Gulf War of 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait — 30 years ago. The short military conflict that took place under this authority has been over for three decades,” Spanberger said. “We must remove this old, inactive authority from the books. Repealing this AUMF would help ensure that it is not misused or stretched by any American president going forward.”

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