'Forever war' authorization measure faces delay in U.S. Senate


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army soldiers from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force-Iraq, man a defensive position at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2019. U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Desmond Cassell/Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee's vote on the repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the war in Iraq was delayed for at least a day, as five Republicans on Monday requested a public hearing and classified briefing.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee had planned to debate and vote on the repeal of the AUMF on Wednesday, but it was put off after five members - Senators Mitt Romney, Mike Rounds, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson and Bill Hagerty - requested a delay.

"We should fully evaluate the conditions on the ground, the implications of repealing the 2002 AUMF for our friends, and how adversaries—including ISIS and Iranian backed militia groups—would react," they said in a letter.

A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on Thursday backed legislation to repeal the 2002 AUMF, part of an ongoing effort in Congress to pull back the authority to declare war from the White House.

President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer support repeal.

The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. That authority has shifted to the president, however, due to the "forever war" AUMFs, which do not expire - including the 2002 Iraq AUMF - passed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Repeal proponents say it is time to rein in outdated authorities that presidents have used for a wide range of international military action without congressional approval. Former President Donald Trump cited the 2002 AUMF in early 2020 as one justification for attacking an Iranian military commander at an airport in Baghdad.

Opponents worry that repeal without first writing a replacement would dangerously limit presidential powers and send the message that the United States is pulling back from the Middle East.

The panel has scheduled a second business meeting for Thursday, although it was not yet certain the AUMF would come up then.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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