U.S. Senate war powers vote now delayed until at least July

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Bob Menendez exits the chamber at the U.S. Capitol during U.S. President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Voisard

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate will not vote until at least July on a closely watched effort to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the war in Iraq, after Republican senators requested a public hearing and classified briefing.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been due to debate and vote on the repeal at a meeting on Tuesday, but its chairman, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, said he had arranged a briefing for committee members in July after the Republicans' request.

"We will all have an opportunity to hear directly from the administration and to question State and Defense Department officials concerning the proposed repeal," Menendez said during a committee meeting.

The House of Representatives has already approved the repeal, and President Joe Biden has said he supports it.

The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. That authority has shifted to the president, however, due to the "forever war" Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or 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Repeal proponents say it is time to rein in outdated authorities that presidents from both parties have used for a wide range of international military action without congressional approval during the past two decades.

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

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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