The Bipartisan Fight to Repeal President War Powers


Key Items to Consider:

  1. The Syrian Airstrike
  2. Repealing Presidential War Powers

The Syrian Airstrike

On February 25th, President Joe Biden requested airstrikes on Syrian buildings in retribution for rockets being used on U.S. personnel in Iraq. The Pentagon confirmed these buildings were used by Iranian militia. Biden aimed to prevent Iran and its allies from attacking U.S. troops within the Middle East, specifically Iraq. In total, Iran sent 3 rockets to Iraq. These were all during the period in which the Biden administration attempted to revitalize what was once known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Consequently, the United States struck back.

The Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby, stated that “two F-15 fighter jets dropped seven precision-guided munitions on buildings used by the Iranian-backed militias, totally destroying nine structures and partially destroying two.” These strikes killed 22 fighters according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian foreign affairs ministry described the airstrikes as “cowardly U.S. aggression” and asserted that they had violated international law. Russia, currently an ally of Syria, described this as an illegal operation and requested better communication in the future, as they were only given notice a few minutes before the strikes. On the other hand, the Pentagon argued against these claims, stating it was within the jurisdiction of the President (who is also the commander-in-chief) to respond with self-defense against an attack, as stated in article 51 of the U.N. charter. 

Nine buildings were destroyed and two heavily damaged by the airstrikes, the US said. Pic: 2021 Maxar Technologies
Picture of the airstrike damage;; 2021 Maxar Technologies

Repealing Presidential War Powers

Presidential War Powers, given in 1991 and 2002, were for President Bill Clinton seeking authorization of the Gulf War, and later for the use of American troops against Iraq. Following the airstrike in Syria, a group of Senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties requested a repeal of these powers. Leading this strife is Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Senator Todd Young, who passed a bill that would ultimately deprive the President of the presidential war powers of 1991 and 2002.

Many other senators have shown support for this bill (from both parties). This proposal was constituted in reprisal for President Biden’s “unilateral” order for an airstrike in Syria. As established by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the Biden administration is “committed to working with Congress to ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars.” This legislation is in the development stage and will be negotiated upon with both the executive and legislative branches.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and a group of bipartisan senators meet with reporters just after the Senate advanced a resolution asserting that President Donald Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senator Tim Kaine and other senators asserting that approval from Congress is needed for action within the Middle East; AP Photo


  • On February 25th, 2021, President Biden ordered airstrikes on buildings in Syria used by Iranian militia
  • These attacks were in retaliation against rocket attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq prior
  • A group of bipartisan senators, led by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Senator Todd Young, has paved the path to the repeal of war powers given to the President in 1991 and 2002
  • The Biden administration has committed to working with Congress on this legislation


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