U.S. Senate leader backs repealing 'forever war' authorization

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer departs the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday threw his weight behind an effort to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the war in Iraq, saying it would prevent "military adventurism" such as former President Donald Trump's 2020 airstrike on a Baghdad airport.

Schumer said he supported repeal legislation due for a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday, and planned a Senate vote on a repeal sometime this year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it would consider the AUMF repeal legislation at a meeting scheduled for next week.

Repeal "will eliminate the danger of a future administration reaching back into the legal dustbin to use it as a justification for military adventurism," Schumer said in remarks opening the Senate.

He noted that the 2002 AUMF was one justification Trump used for a Jan. 2020 drone strike on a Baghdad airport that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. The attack raised fears of war during the last days of the Republican's administration.

"There is no good reason to allow this legal authority to persist in case another reckless commander-in-chief tries the same trick in the future," Schumer said.

President Joe Biden's administration said on Monday it supported the repeal effort, boosting lawmakers' push to pull back the authority to declare war from the White House.

The U.S. Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. However, that authority has shifted to the president as Congress passed "forever war" AUMFs, which did not expire - such as the 2002 Iraq measure, and one allowing the fight against al Qaeda and affiliates after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A few lawmakers have pushed for years to repeal the authorizations. The current House effort was led by Democrat Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to oppose the 2001 AUMF.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio)

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