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Lawmakers propose check on Biden’s war powers


WASHINGTON ― A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force in the Middle East amid escalating tension between the U.S. and Iran.

The legislation, led by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind., comes as lawmakers have complained that President Joe Biden did not notify Congress or seek its consent before approving deadly airstrikes in Syria last week. Their efforts could test whether Congress, which fought to reclaim its war-making powers under President Donald Trump, will continue that fight under Biden.

“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers. Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary,” Kaine said in a statement. “The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs that underpinned the war against Iraq need to be taken off the books to prevent their future misuse. They serve no operational purpose, keep us on permanent war footing, and undermine the sovereignty of Iraq, a close partner.”

Kaine told The Hill that the new legislation is the first step in his efforts to update the 1974 War Powers Act and the 2001 authorization.

Last year, Trump vetoed a bipartisan measure from Kaine and others to limit his authority to launch military operations against Iran; the Senate failed to override the veto.

The new bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“The airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria last week demonstrate the need to review and revise the way in which our leaders collectively choose whether or not to wage war. An initial yet important part of that process is removing unnecessary war-making resolutions that are still on the books,” said Coons, a Biden ally.

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