Joe Biden’s interventionist agenda may be at risk of being neutralized by a new bipartisan bill in the Senate intended to limit the president’s war powers.
This new effort has been motivated by the recent airstrikes in Syria ordered by Biden. In view of this, both the Democratic and Republican sides have united in the Upper House of Congress to prevent it.
The proposal put forward by the Republican senator for Indiana, Todd Young, and the Democratic senator for Virginia, Tim Kaine, is quite disruptive with respect to measures that facilitate the authorization of war actions, which have been growing for decades.
According to Tim Kaine’s Senate profile, lawmakers reintroduced his bill to repeal the 1991 and 2002 “authorizations” for the use of military force against Iraq. The Middle Eastern country that suffered bloody wars against America was heavily occupied during these past two decades (by both Democratic and Republican administrations).
However, it was during Donald Trump’s administration that the withdrawal and return of American troops began. However, looking deeper into this proposal that suggests ending constant wars, it does not seem to end conflicts abroad at the root.
What does the Kaine and Young anti-war bill propose?
While a notable effort against “endless wars,” the proposal is limited in curbing American involvement in war. The bill would repeal authorizations for the use of military force only in Iraq enacted in 1991 (which authorized the Gulf War) and 2002 (which authorized intervention and occupation to combat Al Qaeda). In this way the U.S. would reduce its presence in the area.
However, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Syrian Government to Respond to Chemical Weapons Use Act persists. In 2013 it was shelved with no votes for or against, and it can be easily reintroduced.
If we look at who in 2013 voted in favor of a limited intervention in Syria, we can note that Senator Tim Kaine, (the same Senator who today wants to strip Biden of war powers in Iraq), voted in favor of intervention. While the bill prohibited Barack Obama from deploying U.S. troops, it allowed missile strikes like the ones Biden ordered a short time ago.
Senator Kaine stated that “the airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch, regardless of party, will continue to expand its war powers.”
“Congress has a responsibility not only to vote to authorize new military actions,” Kaine elaborated, “but also to revoke old authorizations that are no longer needed. The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs that underpinned the war against Iraq must be removed from the books to prevent their misuse in the future.”
The Virginia senator later added in the same remarks that these authorizations serve no operational purpose, because they maintain a permanent war footing, undermining the sovereignty of Iraq, which he called a “close partner.” Kaine called for bipartisan support for the measure and urged the Biden administration to support it as well to “show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on these issues.
According to the same official Kaine press release, Republican Senator Mike Lee stated that Congress has a responsibility not only to declare war, but also to end conflict. “When authorizations for the use of military force remain, they become ripe for abuse, expanding far beyond the intent of Congress,” Lee asserted.