House votes to repeal 1957, 1991 war authorizations

The votes occurred amid a push within Congress to reenact limits on presidential war powers

The House voted to repeal a pair of decades-old war authorizations on Tuesday amid a push within Congress to reenact limits on presidential war powers.

House lawmakers voted to revoke a 1991 authorization for use of military force that was first passed ahead of the Gulf War, as well as a 1957 provision that authorized the use of force in defense of Middle Eastern nations from "any country controlled by international communism." 

"Today, we have another opportunity to demonstrate that Congress is serious about reclaiming Congressional War Powers — and serious about representing the servicemembers and veterans who have served our country," Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. "Too often, they have served under authorities that were signed into law decades previously."

The push to repeal the authorizations drew bipartisan support in the House. Earlier this month, House lawmakers voted to repeal a 2002 authorization issued ahead of the second Iraq war. That vote drew some opposition from Republican lawmakers who expressed concern that the move could embolden militia groups active in the region.

The latest vote on the 1991 and 1957 authorizations occurred just days after President Biden ordered airstrikes against Iran-linked militia groups near the Iraq-Syria border. Biden did not cite an authorization for use of military force in ordering the strikes.

The action drew some pushback from lawmakers who questioned whether it had overstepped presidential authority.


"My concern is that the pace of activity directed at U.S. forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. "Both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come to Congress for a war declaration under these circumstances."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.