The War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973, was meant to serve as a check on executive power and keep constitutional authority to declare war in the hands of Congress.
The law gave presidents the ability to engage in military action only when there is a formal declaration of war, authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States. But the law has instead been used by presidents to expand their power by engaging in hostilities against countries that don’t represent a threat to the United States.
Hoping to return that constitutionally delegated power to Congress, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) has introduced a measure that would repeal the War Power Resolution.
“The use of military force against a sovereign nation is an act of war. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution explicitly grants Congress the sole power to declare war,” said Garrett in a statement from his office. “Unfortunately, since its passage in 1973, the War Powers Resolution has been stripped of its original purpose and has instead served as a temporary, de facto authorization for the executive branch to use military force whenever it deems it necessary.
“Today, I am introducing a bill that would repeal the War Powers Resolution,” he added “Rather than permitting de facto military authorization, sometimes for up to 90 days, my legislation would return the power to go to war to its rightful place—the United States Congress.”
And through he did eventually go to Congress authorization, the White House has claimed that they could still act on their own through the War Powers Resolution if the vote fails or a diplomatic solution isn’t reached. That has led many to wonder if the issue coming to Congress is noting more than a charade.