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War Powwer Act 2

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Autor:  anton  13 December 2010
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The War Powers Act of 1973

The War Powers Act limits the power of the President of the United States to wage war without the approval of the Congress. The War Powers Act is also known as The War Powers Resolution. The purpose of the War Powers Resolution is to ensure that Congress and the President share in making decisions that may get the United States involved in hostilities. It prohibits the President from waging war beyond 60 days without the Congressional approval (MILNET: The War Powers Act of 1973). Authorization can be made in many forms such as a temporary waiver of the Act or via a Declaration of War (MILNET: The War Powers Act of 1973).

Under the Constitution, war powers are divided. Congress has the power to declare war and raise and support the armed forces (Article I, Section 8), while the president is the Commander in Chief (Article II, Section 2) (War Powers Resolution, Wikimedia). It is generally agreed that the Commander in Chief role gives the president power to repel attacks against the United States and makes him responsible for leading the armed forces. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, the United States found itself involved for many years in undeclared wars (War Powers Resolution, Wikimedia). Many members of Congress became concerned with the erosion of congressional authority to decide when the United States should become involved in a war or the use of armed forces that might lead to war. The Senate and the House of Representatives achieved the 2/3 majority required to pass this joint resolution over President NixonЎЇs veto on November 7, 1973. (War Powers Resolution, Wikimedia).

The War Powers Resolution states that the PresidentЎЇs powers as Commander in Chief to introduce U.S. forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war; (2) specific statutory authorization; or (3) a national emergency created by an attack on the United States or its forces (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance). It requires the President in every possible instance to consult with Congress before introducing American armed forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities unless there has been a declaration of war or other specific congressional authorization (The War Powers Act of 1973). Claremont Education It also requires the President to report to Congress any introduction of forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities, Section 4(a)(1); into foreign territory while equipped for combat, Section 4(a)(2); or in numbers which substantially enlarge U.S. forces equipped for combat already in a foreign nation, Section 4(a)(3) (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance).

Once a report is submitted Ў°or required to be submittedЎ± under Section 4(a) (1), Congress must authorize the use of forces within 60 to 90 days or the forces must be withdrawn. It is important to note that since the War Powers Resolution enactment, over President NixonЎЇs veto in 1973, every President has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement by the Congress on the PresidentЎЇs authority as Commander in Chief (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance).

Presidents have submitted 118 reports to Congress as a result of the War Powers Resolution, although only one (the Mayaguez situation) cited Section 4(a) (1) or specifically stated that forces had been introduced into hostilities or imminent hostilities (The Avalon Project at Yale Law School). Of these, President Ford submitted 4, President Carter one, President Reagan 14, President George W. Bush 7, President Clinton 60, and President George W. Bush 32. Congress invoked the War Powers Resolution in the Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution (P.L.98-119), which authorized the Marines to remain in Lebanon for 18 months. In addition, P.L. 102-1, authorizing the use of U.S. armed forces concerning the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait, stated that it constituted specific statutory authorization within the meaning of the War Powers Resolution (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance).

On November 9, 1993, the House used a section of the War Powers Resolution to state that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Somalia by March 31, 1994; Congress had already taken this action in appropriations legislation. More recently, war powers have been at issue in former Yugoslavia/Bosnia/Kosovo, Iraq, Haiti, and in responding to terrorist attacks against the United States after September 11, 2001 (War Powers Resolution, Wikimedia). After combat operations against Iraqi forces ended on February 28, 1991, the use of force to obtain Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions remained a War Powers issue, until the enactment of P.L. 107-243, in October 2002, which explicitly authorized the President to use force against Iraq, an authority he exercised in March 2003, and continues to exercise for military operations in Iraq (War Powers Resolution, Wikimedia).

The issue of war powers and whether congressional authorization is necessary for U.S. participation in U.N. action was also raised by efforts to halt fighting in the former territory of Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia. The United States participated without congressional authorization in airlifts in Sarajevo, naval monitoring or sanctions, aerial enforcement of a Ў°no-fly zone,Ў± and aerial enforcement of safe havens. In the late 1995, the issue of war powers and Bosnia was raised again as President Clinton sent over 20,000 American combat troops to Bosnia as part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force. In December 1995, Congress considered and voted on a number of bills and resolutions, but the House and Senate could not come to consensus on any single measure.

The issue of presidential authority to deploy forces in the absence of congressional authorization, under the War Powers Resolution, or otherwise, became an issue of significant controversy in late March 1999 when President Clinton ordered U.S. military forces to participate in a NATO-led military operation in Kosovo. This action became the focus of an ongoing policy debate over the purpose and scope of U.S. military involvement in Kosovo.

Subsequently, the House voted on a number of measures relating U.S. participation in the NATO operation in Kosovo. On April 28, 1991, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1569, by a vote of 249-180. This bill would prohibit the use of funds appropriated to the Defense Department from being used for the deployment of Ў°ground elementsЎ± of the U.S. Armed Forces in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia unless that deployment is specifically authorized by law. On that same day the House defeated H.Con.Res.82, by a vote of 139-290. This resolution would have directed the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove U.S. Armed Forces from their positions in connection with the present operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On December 7, 2005, the President reported to Congress Ў°consistentЎ± with the War Powers Resolution, a consolidated report giving details of multiple on-going United States military developments and operations Ў°in support of the global war on terrorism,Ў± and in support of the Multinational Force in Iraq, where about 160,000 U.S. military personnel are deployed. U.S. forces are also deployed in the Horn of Africa region-Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Djibouti-assisting in Ў°enhancing counter-terrorism capabilitiesЎ± of these nations. The President further noted that U.S. personnel are also deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the NATO Headquarters-Sarajevo who assist in defense reform and perform operational tasks, such as Ў°counter-terrorism and supporting the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia.Ў±

Two separate but closely related issues confront Congress each time the President introduces armed forces into a situation abroad that conceivably could lead to their involvement in hostilities. One issue concerns the division of war powers between the President and Congress, whether the use of armed forces falls within the purview of the congressional power to declare war and the War Powers Resolution. The other issue is whether or not Congress concurs in the wisdom of the action (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance).

A related issue has been congressional authorization of U.N. peacekeeping or other U.N.-sponsored actions. For over three decades, war powers and the War Powers Resolution have been an issue in U.S. military actions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Europe (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance). This issue brief does not deal with substantive merits of using armed forces in specific cases, but rather with the congressional authorization for the action and the application and effectiveness of the War Powers Resolution (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance).

A longer-term issue is whether the War Powers Resolution is an appropriate and effective means of assuring congressional participation in actions that might get the United States involved in war. Some observers contend that the War Powers Resolution has not significantly increased congressional participation, while others emphasize that it has promoted consultation and served as leverage (War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance). Proposals have been made to strengthen, change, or repel the resolution.

Works Cited

MILNET: The War Powers Act of 1973. 18 MAY 2006.


The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. 18 MAY 2006. The Avalon Project. 18 MAY

2006. .

The War Powers Act of 1973. Claremont Education. 18 MAY 2006.


War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance. 14 February 2006. Congressional

Research Service Reports. 18 MAY 2006.


War Powers Resolution. 15 May 2006. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 18 May 2006.


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