House Votes To Repeal 1957 and 1991 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force
On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal two war authorizations, the 1957 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the 1991 AUMF, which grant the president broad discretion in military operations in the Middle East absent congressional approval. The measure passed 366–46 as part of a larger bill package.
AUMFs allow the president to use military force against certain hostile parties without an official declaration of war, for which the Constitution grants Congress sole authority. Though Congress has not formally declared war since World War II, the U.S. has engaged in conflicts far and wide thanks to ever-broadening interpretations of AUMFs and other war legislation.
The 1957 AUMF was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and authorized him to counter possible communist hostility in the Middle East. The measure had a provision allowing the president to “use armed forces to assist any such nation…requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism.” Critics have pointed out that the language of the 1957 AUMF did not simply authorize force, but “declared a policy to use it.”
The 1957 AUMF has never been invoked by a presidential administration to justify military activity. Rep. Peter Meijer (R–Mich.), who sponsored the 1957 AUMF repeal bill, noted that rolling back the measure would have no impact on ongoing military conduct.
The other measure subject to yesterday’s House vote, the 1991 AUMF, was the primary authorization through which the U.S. entered the Gulf War. It hasn’t been invoked since that conflict, but as sponsor Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D–Va.) explained, “The fact that it hasn’t been misused or hasn’t been abused doesn’t mean that that possibility doesn’t exist at some point in the future.”
On June 17, the House voted to repeal the 2002 AUMF, which granted the president the authority to combat Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq without congressional approval. The vote margin for
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