McCarthy says Iraq military authorizations will first go to House committee

Rachel Oswald, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Ahead of expected Senate passage of a measure that would repeal two decades-old Iraq-related military authorizations, Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday he sees a strong chance the Republican-controlled House will pass a similar bill.

McCarthy, R-Calif., speaking to reporters at a Republican retreat in Florida, offered his most supportive remarks to date of the bipartisan Senate effort to repeal the 1991 Gulf War authorization for use of military force and the 2002 Iraq AUMF. But he indicated the House Foreign Affairs Committee would hold its own markup before it gets to the floor.

“It’ll have to go through committee. … I think it has a good chance of one getting through the committee and getting to the floor,” McCarthy said. He also indicated he would support repeal of the two Iraq AUMFs as long as a third one, a 2001 AUMF focused on terrorism, remains in place.

Last weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The attack toppled the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein but failed in other strategic objectives, including finding the weapons of mass destruction cited by the George W. Bush administration to justify the invasion to Congress and the United Nations. Such weapons were not found.

The U.S. military occupation also largely failed to bring stability to the Iraqis, instead creating a political vacuum that Iran exploited to expand its influence over its smaller Arab neighbor, using armed proxy militias operating in Iraq. The instability in Iraq also offered terrorist groups — notably the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS — a base to plot and carry out attacks on Iraqis and in the broader region.

McCarthy said it would be “very healthy” for lawmakers to debate repealing the Iraq-related authorizations.


“I support in keeping the worldwide (AUMF) so there’s action that can be taken if there’s a terrorist (attack) anywhere in the world. But Iraq and 20 years into it, I don’t have a problem repealing,” McCarthy said.

The Senate on Tuesday agreed by a vote of 67-28 to a motion to proceed to the AUMFs repeal legislation from Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

“I hope Republicans will work with us to keep the bill moving forward, because AUMF repeal in the Senate is now a matter of when, not of if,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in floor remarks. “It’s my hope that we’ll finish our work on the AUMF as soon as possible. We will have an amendment process. There is no reason to drag this out.”

The Senate leader previously said he would permit votes on a limited number of amendments he deemed reasonable. The Senate could take final action on the bill as early as this week, but the timing remains uncertain.


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