WASHINGTON (AP) – On Friday, President Joe Biden voiced his support for replacing decades-old authorizations for the use of military force in the Middle East, just over a week after he relied on authorizations to carry out a retaliatory air strike against Iran. backed militia in eastern Syria.
The Biden administration announced its position after a bipartisan bill was introduced earlier this week that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the wars in Iraq on which the presidents of both parties have relied for legal justification to carry carried out strikes in the region.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was committed to working with Congress to “ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are superseded by a narrow and specific framework that will ensure that we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending eternal wars. “
Biden sparked a bipartisan backlash last week after he ordered attacks on facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah. The attacks were in response to a rocket attack in early February on US troops and civilian personnel in northern Iraq without first seeking congressional approval. The United States has blamed the military for numerous attacks on US personnel and interests in Iraq in the past.
Senator Tim Kaine, one of the bill’s principal sponsors, said that reliance on decades-old authorizations for the use of military force “serves no operational purpose, keeps us on a permanent war footing, and undermines the sovereignty of Iraq “.
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the executive branch, regardless of party, will continue to expand its war powers,” said Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia.
Administration officials defended the airstrikes as legal and appropriate, saying they removed facilities that housed valuable “capabilities” used by Iranian-backed militia groups to attack US and allied forces in Iraq.
But several prominent members of Congress, including members of Biden’s own party, denounced the attacks, the first military action he has authorized. Kaine and others argued that offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional in the absence of extraordinary circumstances.
The White House voiced support for replacing the authorizations even as it warned that the United States may consider military action following a rocket attack earlier this week that hit an air base in western Iraq where US and US troops are located. the coalition. A US contractor was killed after at least 10 rockets hit the base early Wednesday morning.
“If we assess that an additional response is warranted, we will take action again in the way and at the time we choose,” Psaki said.