The US Senate recently passed a bill to formally repeal the President’s power to use military force, which includes content related to North Korea. This bill should not be interpreted as preventing the United States from responding to attacks by countries like North Korea.
The Senate passed the “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Repeal Act” on the 29th, which formally repeals the approval of the use of military force granted to the President in 2002. The key content of this bill is to strengthen the war declaration power of Congress, and it also includes a provision that clearly interprets the ability of the United States to respond to attacks by North Korea and other countries.
[Amendment] “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the United States from appropriately responding to attacks or the destabilizing malign tactics of (1) nation states, such as Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, or the People’s Republic of China; (2) violent extremist organizations; or (3) foreign terrorist organizations.”
This provision proposed by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin states that “no content of this law should be interpreted as preventing the United States from appropriately responding to attacks or destabilizing malicious tactics by countries such as Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China, violent extremist organizations, and foreign terrorist organizations.”
The US Constitution grants war declaration power to Congress, not the President, but after 9/11, in 2002 related to the Iraq War, AUMF law was created to grant the President the right to use appropriate military force against individuals or countries that planned, led, supported and executed terrorism. However, AUMF has been criticized for allowing the United States to use it as an excuse to justify military action around the world. During Donald Trump’s presidency, when pre-emptive strikes against North Korea were mentioned, AUMF was mentioned along with Article 2 of the Constitution as one of two grounds that made it possible.
The AUMF repeal bill passed by the Senate must pass through the House and be signed by the President before it takes effect. This item passed through the House in 2021 when Democrats controlled both houses but was discarded without passing through Senate. President Joe Biden has said that repealing AUMF will not affect US response to current threats such as Iran and will sign it if it is processed by Congress. On the other hand, an amendment was included in the AUMF repeal bill passed by Senate that obliges reporting of defense cost sharing details with allied countries such as Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand.