The War Powers Resolution, passed by Congress in 1973 over a presidential veto by Richard Nixon, was designed to limit the executive’s ability to wage war without the legislative branch’s consent. After Vietnam, the idea was to prevent America from slowly being sucked into another debilitating undeclared war.
President Barack Obama should abide by the 1973 resolution, given the lengthy battle ahead against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Americans deserve to know upfront where their leaders stand with regard to committing U.S. forces to combat. …
Congress recessed in September without having voted on a war resolution. Now members are focused on election campaigning, liberally exercising their right to snipe and criticize the president for his strategy.
Every step Obama takes against the Islamic State henceforth is subject to attack by hundreds of armchair Capitol Hill generals who seek to use him as a foil in their bids for re-election. The president cannot win under this scenario, and Congress can’t lose.
“I think it’s embarrassing that Congress is not in session and debating and voting on the most important issues of the day, which are national security issues,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.
Obama regards the authorities granted to President George W. Bush to launch the global war against terrorism in 2001 as the authority he needs to fight the Islamic State.
“I could not disagree more. You don’t ask people to sacrifice their lives until the nation has debated and committed to the mission. It’s immoral,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Under the 1973 law, the president may not engage U.S. forces in war for longer than 60 days without congressional approval. Congress almost certainly would favor a war resolution against the Islamic State because few members would risk being seen as soft on terrorism.
Obama should view the war powers debate not as usurpation of his authority but as a way to demonstrate national unity. The Islamic State needs to see that Americans speak with one, and only one, voice when we confront our enemies.
War Powers Resolution, 1973: “It is the purpose of this chapter to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances. …
“The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.”