Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a lengthy statement on March 28 expressing opposition to a bill that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Iraq war authorizations, claiming that undoing them would benefit Iran.
The first allowed the United States to enter the Gulf War, during which Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces were driven out of Kuwait. The second allowed the U.S. military to go into Iraq following reports that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
McConnell said that the repeals, which President Joe Biden supports, would be a victory for Iran.
“I am opposed to Congress sunsetting any military force authorizations in the Middle East. Our terrorist enemies aren’t sunsetting their war against us. And when we deploy our servicemembers in harm’s way, we need to supply them with all the support and legal authorities that we can.”
McConnell remarked that the 2002 authorization, “bears directly on the threats we face today in Iraq and Syria from Iran-backed terrorists.”
“Iraq has come under extremely heavy influence and manipulation from Iran. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has spent years standing up political parties, militias, and terrorist proxies in Iraq whose chief loyalty is to Tehran,” he said.
“Our enemies in Iran who have spent two decades targeting and killing Americans in the Middle East would be delighted to see America dial down our military presence, authorities, and activities in Iraq.
“Tehran wants to push us out of Iraq and Syria. Why should Congress make that easier?”
McConnell went on to lament that “while the Senate’s been engaged in this abstract, theoretical debate about rolling back American power, Iran has continued its deadly attacks on us.
“Just last week a suspected Iranian attack killed one American and wounded six more in Syria. Some in America may think our war against terrorism is sunsetting but clearly, the terrorists do not agree.
“After a small initial response from the Biden administration, Iran launched yet more attacks over the weekend, aimed at killing even more Americans.
“Our president’s response to this escalation seems to have been to pull his punches and let Tehran have the last word.”
McConnell called on the Biden administration to “change its strategy, rebuild deterrence, end Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, and protect Americans and American interests from Iranian terrorism.”
His statement comes a day after the Senate voted to advance the bill, introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations.