Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said he would support legislation to repeal two Iraq war authorizations.
“I’m into it,” McCarthy said of the Iraq war authorization repeals at a news conference for a GOP retreat in Orlando, Fla. “I don’t have a problem repealing that.”
But McCarthy said the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted in the wake of the deadly 9/11 attacks to to fight against global terrorism was important to keep on the books so “action can be taken” against designated terrorist groups.
“I was not here to vote on either of the creation of those, but you’re 20 years into this now,” McCarthy said. “I still want to take actions if there are terrorists anywhere around the world. If we’re keeping that one AUMF and removing another one, that’s personally where I am.”
The comments are the first public indication that McCarthy may support legislation to end war authorizations against Iraq since the Senate voted 68-27 to advance the Iraq AUMF repeals in a bipartisan showing last week.
The legislation would end the AUMFs for the 1991 Gulf War, which repelled an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Both remain on the books despite the Gulf War ending in 1991 and the Iraq war concluding in 2011.
It would not end congressional approval for the 2001 war on terror.
Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the bill’s sponsors, argue the 1991 Gulf War AUMF and the 2002 Iraq war AUMF could be misused by a sitting president.
They also say the repealing the authorizations would signal support for Iraq, now a strategic partner in the Middle East.
Another Senate procedural vote is expected Tuesday night for the bill to repeal the Iraq war authorizations, including on any proposed amendments.
McCarthy on Tuesday said it would be “very healthy” to have a debate on the Iraq war repeals should the measure make it to the House floor.
“There’s a lot of people sitting in Congress that went to defend us under that AUMF and I think they should have a say in that process,” he said.