U.S. House Backs Repeal of 2002 War Authorization in Bid to End 'Forever Wars'

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Portraits hang at a memorial to service members killed during recent years of the Iraq War in the International Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, last month.
Portraits hang at a memorial to service members killed during recent years of the Iraq War in the International Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, last month.Credit: John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday backed the repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the war in Iraq, as lawmakers pull back the authority to declare war from the White House.

The House voted 268 to 161 in favor of repealing the authorization. All but one "nay" vote came from Republicans, although at least 49 joined Democrats in favor of repeal.

To be enacted, the measure must also be approved by the Senate – where its prospects are less certain –  and signed into law by President Joe Biden, who has said he supports repeal.

The U.S. Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. However, that authority has shifted to the president as lawmakers passed "forever war" AUMFs, which do not expire – such as the 2002 Iraq measure, and one allowing the fight against al-Qaida and affiliates after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

"I look forward to Congress no longer taking a back seat on some of the most consequential decisions our nation can make," said Representative Greg Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging support for the repeal.

Opponents worry that the repeal would dangerously limit the powers of the president and send the message that the United States is pulling back from the Middle East.

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