It’s important that U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul successfully multitask, not permitting news about scandals or impeachment controversies to prevent them from simultaneously addressing other vital issues.
Congress needs to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which Congress passed in late 2002 to make possible initiation of the Iraq war. Nine years later almost all U.S. forces were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but unfortunately the AUMF through which Congress authorized that war has remained legally in effect.
Officials from first the Obama administration and then the Trump administration have claimed that the 2002 Iraq AUMF can still legally justify Americans fighting years later, not only in Iraq but also in other countries. The possibility of waging a war against Iran has recently been contemplated, for example.
The Constitution gives Congress, not the president, authority to declare war. But, until Congress repeals the Iraq AUMF, which was passed 17 years ago, the potential will exist for that 2002 measure being misinterpreted as giving presidents a blank check to initiate wars elsewhere without first obtaining congressional approval to do so.
Fortunately, when the House of Representatives recently passed bills to authorize and fund military activities (the national Defense Authorization Act; the Defense Spending Bill) it included in those measures repeal of 2002 Iraq AUMF. McConnell, Paul and other senators should make sure that the 2002 Iraq AUMF repeal provisions remain in those bills.