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War Powers Resolution:
To place limits on the President’s ability to side-step the legislature, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973 over President Nixon’s veto.
Provisions of the War Powers Resolution:
President cannot deploy US military forces into hostilities without formal approval from Congress or in case of an emergency such as an attack on the homeland.
Meant to ensure collective decision-making between the President and Congress.
President must consult with Congress before and during deployment.
If President deploys troops without authorization, the troops must be withdrawn within 60 days
Somewhat contradictory to the first provision.
Status of the War Powers Resolution:
Since passage, all Presidents have considered the War Powers Resolution to be an unconstitutional limitation on the President’s executive power. Congress has sued the President on multiple occasions to challenge the President’s authority, but the courts have refused to rule on the issue because it is a “political question” for the legislative and executive branch to settle. The only way to truly enforce the War Powers Resolution is to make is a constitutional amendment.
You have been appointed to a Constitutional Convention to propose an amendment to the US Constitution that clarifies the role that Congress plays in limiting the President’s ability to wage war. Given this heavy responsibility, you must decide how, exactly, you would design such an amendment. Helpfully, your staff members have compiled a short list of possible alternatives to help you choose:
Possible options when considering a Constitutional amendment based on the War Powers Resolution:
No amendment and repeal War Powers Resolution.
The President can rely upon inherent powers related to national defense and does not need congressional approval.
No Amendment. Keep existing War Powers Resolution.
Turn War Powers Resolution into an amendment as is.
Tighten up the requirements for the second provision:
E.g. Prohibit President from deploying troops into hostilities without authorization unless it is to prevent an imminent attack on the homeland.
E.g. Decrease the time limit for troop withdrawals to 45, 30, or 15 days.
Require the President to obtain authorization from Congress in ALL cases before deploying troops into hostilities.
Require Congress to reauthorize any deployment at regular intervals like every month or every six months.
What proposal would you make to clarify the relationship between the president and Congress with regard to war powers? Would you propose an amendment at all? If so, what would it say? If not, why do you favor maintaining the current arrangement? NOTE: If you do favor maintaining the current arrangement you must demonstrate that you know how it works, and you must explain the specific benefits. It is not sufficient to say “It’s worked very well so far.”
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