The War Powers Resolution


The War powers Resolution of 1973, November the 7th

A U.S. federal law providing that the president can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad by authorization of Congress into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the U.S is already under attack or serious threat. The War Powers resolution requires that the president notifies congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. Under the U.S. constitution, war powers are divided. Congress has the power to declare war, raise and support the arm forces, and control the war funding (Article 1, Section 8), while the President is commander-in-chief (Article II, Section 2). It is generally agreed that the commander-in-chief role gives the President to repel attacks against the U.S., and makes him responsible for leading the armed forces.

During the Korean and Vietnam War, the U.S. found itself involved for many years in situations of intense conflict without a declaration of war. Many members of congress became concerned with the erosion of congressional authority to decide when the IS should become involved in a war or the use of armed forces that might lead to war. The War powers resolution was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate but was vetoed by Nixon. By a two-thirds vote in each house, Congress overrode the veto and enacted the joint resolution into law on November 74, 1973.
Presidents have submitted 118 reports to Congress as a result of the WPR danger. On November 9, 1993, the House used a section of the WPR to state that the US forces should be withdrawn from Somalia by March 31, 1994. More recently under Clinton, war powers have been an issue in former Yugoslavia/Bosnia/Kosovo, Iraq and Haiti and under G.W. Bush in responding to terrorist attacks against the US after September 11, 2001. The Use of force to obtain Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions remained a War Powers issue, until the enactment of the Authorization for Use of Military forces against Iraq, In October 2002.

The WPR has been controversial since it became law and every president since its passage has treated it as unconstitutional. The WPR has been violated a number of times with little attention, by media outlets.

Because it limits the authority of the president in the use of force without any official resolution nor declaration of war buy congress, there is a controversy as to whether the provisions of the resolution are consistent with the U.S. Constitution. The reports to congress required of the president have been drafted to state that they are “consistent with” the WPR, rather that “pursuant to”, so as to take into account the Presidential position that the resolution if unconstitutional.
On of the constitutionality arguments concerns a possible breach of the ‘seperation of powers’  doctrine, and whether the resolution changes the balance between the Legislative and the Executive functions. The President is bound by an Oath of Office, Article II, Section 1.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The same is applicable to members of Congress."