On Thursday, the Senate voted 68–27 to advance legislation that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, against Iraq.
The bipartisan legislation seeks to eliminate the authorizations that opened the door for the Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush, and the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. Monday will mark 20 years since the 2003 invasion.
Repealing military authorizations has been an ongoing struggle. In June 2021, the House voted 268–161 to roll back the 2002 AUMF but the effort fizzled away in the Senate.
The 2001 AUMF after September 11, however, is untouched by this legislation. In its endorsement of the legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations, the Biden administration noted that the U.S. “conducts no ongoing military activities that rely primarily” on the two authorizations. “Repeal of these authorizations would have no impact on current U.S. military Operations,” the administration notes.
The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify U.S. action in Afghanistan, Cuba, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, among others.
Thursday’s advancement to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations follows the House last week rejecting a War Powers Resolution that would’ve required a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria. Only 56 Democrats and 47 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution.
So while the move to advance the legislation is encouraging, it’s worth noting that the advancement is largely symbolic. Which is not to say it’s futile; symbols, especially for a country in which so much violence has been spurred by them, are still significant. The last time Congress repealed a war authorization was in 1971 when it voted to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that provided authority for the Vietnam War.
Ideally, the legislation will continue advancing, be signed by Biden promptly, and even galvanize support to confront the 2001 AUMF. At the same time, it’s already been more than 30 years since the first authorization and it still hasn’t been repealed. Before considering ideal outcomes, pressure will need to be maintained to at least repeal this first pair of authorizations. For now, it’s one bite at a time—it’s just prudent we stay hungry enough to keep going.
The North Dakota Supreme Court has upheld up a decision to temporarily block the state’s near-total abortion ban. The court also stated that residents have a “fundamental right” to abortions that preserve pregnant people’s health.
The majority opinion denied Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s request to remove a temporary injunction against a trigger law that would have enacted the state’s abortion ban after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In 2007, the state passed a bill that would outlaw abortion within 30 days if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade. Last June, the bill was triggered by Dobbs v. Jackson, which indeed overturned the landmark case.
The Red River Women’s Clinic, formerly the state’s only abortion provider, sued Wrigley to stop the ban, claiming that the state’s constitution grants residents the right to an abortion. Last summer, the clinic moved from Fargo, North Dakota, to nearby Minnesota town, Moorhead, where abortion remains legal.
A county judge had temporarily blocked the ban while the case continued. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the county judge’s injunction.
Wrigley had appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to remove the injunction, on the grounds that the Red River Women’s Clinic and other plaintiffs “failed to prove they have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits” that they would “suffer irreparable injury,” that there would be “harm to other interested parties,” or that “the effect on the public interest” weighs in favor of a temporary pause on the ban.
The Supreme Court denied Wrigley’s appeal, claiming that, in fact, the clinic did demonstrate “likely success on the merits,” conceding that “there is a fundamental right to an abortion” in “life-saving and health-preserving circumstances.” The Court cited law as far back as 1877 to show precedent for legalized life-preserving abortion, in order to state that, in 2023, people have the right to such a procedure.
This post has been updated.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday slammed the Republican plan for what the United States should do if it hits the debt limit.
The GOP has refused to lift the debt ceiling until major budget cuts are made. Instead, House Republicans introduced a proposal last week that would order the Treasury to prioritize payments on government debt and Social Security should the U.S. reach its debt maximum. Democrats have rejected the measure.
“Our systems are built to pay all of our bills on time and not to pick and choose which bills to pay,” Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee. “There is a reason that treasury secretaries of both parties have rejected this incredibly risky and dangerous idea.”
“I cannot give any assurances about the technical feasibility of such a plan,” she continued. “It would be an exceptionally risky, untested, and radical departure from normal payment practices of agencies across the federal government.”
Republicans have made clear they are willing to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to cut costs in the federal budget. They proposed another plan last week that would slash funding for student debt relief, climate change policy, and IRS enforcement, among other things.
But Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have said they refuse to compromise on the debt ceiling, setting up a protracted battle. If the debate drags out too long, the United States could be in serious trouble. The government already hit the debt ceiling in January, and Yellen has previously warned the U.S. could default on its debt by the summer if the cap isn’t raised.
“It’s simply a recipe for economic and financial catastrophe to think we can pay some of our bills and not all of them,” Yellen said Thursday.
Maternal mortality in the United States shot up by 40 percent in 2021, one of the worst rates in the country’s history, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. already has the worst maternal mortality rate among developed nations. These are deaths that occur up to 42 days after the end of the pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2021, 1,205 people died of “maternal causes” in the U.S., at a rate of 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, the CDC report found.
In comparison, 861 people died of maternal causes in 2020, at a rate of 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Things were much worse for Black people, who suffered 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births—nearly triple the rate for white people. From 2018 to 2021, Black people consistently had a much higher rate of maternal mortality than any other ethnic group, the CDC report showed.
The report shows the U.S. actually has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world. Data from the WHO showed that high-income nations had an overall rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, while low-income countries had a rate of 430 deaths per 100,000 live births. Nearly all of these deaths could have been prevented.