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Cole Statement on House’s Repeal of 2002 AUMF

June 17, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 256, which would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted before the U.S. initiated military action in Iraq. Cole supported the legislation.

“It has been nearly two decades since Congress authorized America’s military to address the depravity of Saddam Hussein, his vicious regime and its ongoing role as a state sponsor of terrorism and the fear that he secretly possessed weapons of mass destruction. Acting under this congressional authorization, American and allied troops invaded Iraq in 2003 and quickly put an end to his wicked regime.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. military’s engagement couldn’t end there. It has taken years of hard fighting and heroic efforts by American, allied and Iraqi troops to bring some semblance of order to Iraq. Even now, American soldiers remain in the country, in part to continue the fight against the remnants of al-Qaeda and its successor, ISIS, but also in part to continue to support our friends and allies in the Middle East.

“Regardless of one’s opinion on military engagement in the Middle East, it is apparent that the mission in Iraq has evolved and changed a great deal. As originally drafted, the 2002 AUMF provided clear legal authorities to confront Saddam Hussein and to enforce UN Security Council resolutions. But today, Saddam Hussein is gone, his odious regime is gone and the necessary nature of the American presence in Iraq is very different. As such, this prior authorization should no longer be on the books or used as justification for U.S. military force.

“To ensure lasting stability of the American military’s efforts, it is critical for the executive and legislative branches to engage on the appropriate authorities needed to continue to protect the American people and to continue to fight terrorism. But ultimately, it is up to Congress to approve and issue an appropriate set of authorizations for the use of military force.”