Durbin Urges His Colleagues To Repeal Iraq AUMFs

Durbin was one of 23 Senators to vote against the 2002 Iraq War AUMF

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged his colleagues to repeal two outdated Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) against Iraq.  During his speech, Durbin reflected on the 2002 Iraq War AUMF vote, which he opposed over 20 years ago.

“I remember that vote as clearly as if it were yesterday.  It was a little more than a year after the vicious terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Our nation felt deeply about what happened to 3,000 innocent Americans.  All evidence pointed to Afghanistan-based Al Qaeda as the culprit in that horrific attack.  Yet within days of 9/11, some in Washington decided to beat a different drum not against Al Qaeda or Afghanistan but against Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein…  The American people were deceived and misled by political leaders in Washington,” said Durbin.

More than 150,000 American troops have served in Iraq, including more than 4,500 American casualties, and another 32,000 wounded.  No nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction were ever found, disproving then-Vice President Cheney’s claim.  

“I doubt few here in Washington at that time could have imagined that this AUMF would still be in force more than 20 years later.  Even more incredibly, the 1991 Gulf War AUMF that was used to expel Iraq from Kuwait is still in effect more than 30 years later.  To allow such resolutions to remain in effect decades after the wars they authorized is more than a clerical oversight – it’s a threat to our national security, it’s an open-ended invitation for conflict.  That is why today’s action repealing these two AUMFs is long overdue,” Durbin continued.

Durbin supports the bipartisan effort to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 Iraq AUMFs, legislation introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN). 

“Our Constitution is clear on this question.  Article 1, Section 8 says:  the power to declare war is an explicit power of the Congress,” Durbin continued.  “The Founding Fathers got that right, as far as I’m concerned.  We should never send our sons and daughters into war without the consent of the American people through Congress.  Our Founding Fathers were wise in making sure the awesome power of declaring war did not rest with a monarch or the president himself, but with the people’s elected representatives.”  

Durbin concluded his speech by stating that repealing these AUMFs doesn’t preclude the Congress from debating and possibly passing another AUMF to address future threats.  Durbin plans to reintroduce the Accountability for Endless Wars Act—to terminate authorizations for AUMFs and declarations of war no later than 10 years after the enactment of such authorizations or declarations.

“Repealing these AUMFs will close open-ended war authorizations that should be revisited and debated by the Congress, as required by the Constitution.  So, I strongly support this legislation to repeal these authorizations and to ensure future AUMFs are not allowed to remain in place…  We should no longer abdicate our responsibility by relying on a resolution that has long since served its intended purpose,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.