US Senate vote repeals post-9/11 war law, bill heads to House

US Senate vote repeals post-9/11 war law, bill heads to House
The US Senate has voted to repeal the post-9/11 "Authorised Use of Military Force" bill, which then goes to the House. Critics, however, say that the vote is largely symbolic.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
04 April, 2023
The US Senate has voted to repeal the post-9/11 AUMF bill. [Getty]

The US Senate has voted to repeal the "Authorised Use of Military Force" bill, which became law in September 2001 to allow for the use of armed forces against those who carried out the 9/11 attacks earlier that month.

The vote, 66-30, with all 30 "no" votes coming from Republicans, will then go to the House for a vote, and then to President Joe Biden for his signature. 

The AUMF repeal has been advocated for by activists and the left wing of Congress since its inception, then gained momentum around a decade into the US-led wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. With the missions now complete, the vote is largely symbolic, with some arguing that it came more than a decade too late. 

"It was as if Congress had voted to end the Vietnam War in the 1990s," according to a column in the Intercept.

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"It was a symbolic vote, not an act of courage. It was a historical artefact, like endorsing a new monument honouring the war's dead. It came just days after the 20th anniversary of the US invasion, and, even if passed by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden, it will have no impact on any ongoing US military operations in Iraq or anywhere else," the column noted. 

Nevertheless, Senate Democrats who led the vote appear to be taking pride in the vote perhaps because they see the importance of the symbolism.

"This vote shows that Congress is prepared to call back our constitutional role in deciding how and when a nation goes to war," said Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, according to the Intercept.

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Some of the Republicans who voted against the bill, however, expressed concerns that it would take away their power to fight adversaries.

"Multiple administrations have relied on this authority to address the threat from Iran-backed Shia militias," Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Jim Risch of Idaho said shortly before the vote, according to a report by CNS News.

"Iran has long sought to eject the United States from Iraq. Iran and its proxies have attacked American troops and diplomats over 80 times just since President Biden took office, and with only a few US responses," he added.

Nevertheless, 18 Republicans, some of them relatively conservative, voted in favour of the AUMF repeal.