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US Senate advances bill to repeal decades-old Iraq war authorizations


A U.S. soldier stands guard during a peace conference in al-Zawra amusement park in Baghdad November 7, 2008. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to advance legislation to repeal two decades-old authorizations for past wars in Iraq, as Congress pushed to reassert its role over deciding whether to send troops into combat.

The vote was 65 to 28 to limit debate on the measure, more than the 60 votes required in the 100-member Senate, paving the way for a vote on passage later this week. All 28 “no” votes were from Republicans.

Members of Congress have been arguing for years that Congress has ceded too much authority to both Republican and Democratic presidents over whether troops should be sent into combat, by passing and then failing to repeal broad, open-ended war authorizations that presidents have used for years to justify military action around the globe.

Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war.

Proponents of the current bill call the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, against Iraq “zombie” authorizations. They say they are outdated and inappropriate, given that the wars are long over and Iraq is now a U.S. partner.

This month marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the 2003 Iraq war.

“Repealing these authorizations will demonstrate to the region, and to the world, that the United States is not an occupying force, that the war in Iraq has come to an end, that we are moving forward, working with Iraq as a strategic partner,” said Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said before the vote, urging support for the legislation.

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