Sen. Rand Paul wants to revoke the administration’s ability to re-invade Iraq at will, and he’s getting tacit support from a seemingly unlikely ally — the White House.
Paul will introduce legislation on Tuesday to repeal the Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq. But it marks one of the few times the White House and the Kentucky Republican — who is known for his strong anti-interventionist streak — agree on a defense issue. They’ve sparred over the past year on the administration’s use of drone strikes, the handling of Syria, and the National Security Agency’s intelligence-gathering programs.
“The Administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF since it is no longer used for any U.S. Government activities,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, in a statement to Foreign Policy, which received an advanced copy of the legislation. “We understand that some in Congress are considering legislation related to the Iraq AUMF, and we will certainly examine these proposals as they come forward.”
An administration official noted that repealing the Iraq AUMF was not a priority for the administration because it would be largely symbolic. Paul’s push comes more than two years after the administration announced the end to the Iraq War in late 2011.
But the White House’s hands-off approach to Paul’s legislation could help him gain Democratic supporters. A similar proposal by Paul in 2011 failed by a 30-67 vote.
If Paul’s proposal is successful, the administration could strike back against terrorist activity in Iraq because of the resurgance in al-Qaida-linked violence. Under the AUMF signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 the military can take action nearly anywhere al-Qaida or an al-Qaida-linked group is located.
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