President George H. W. Bush requested a Congressional joint resolution on January 8, 1991, one week before the January 15, 1991, deadline issued to Iraq specified by the November 29, 1990 United Nations United Nations Security Council Resolution 678. President Bush had deployed over 500,000 U.S. troops without Congressional authorization to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region in the preceding five months in response to Iraq's August 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and Kuwait. The votes were 52–47 in the U.S. Senate and 250–183 in the House of Representatives. These were the closest margins in authorizing force by the U.S. Congress since the War of 1812.