Monday, October 29, 2007

New Bi-Partisan Resolution on Congressional War-Making Powers

On October 25, 2007 Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Reps Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) held a press conference last week to announce H. J. Res. 53 introduced on September 25, 2007 to restore the constitutional checks and balances over declaring war.

Although the bill does not specifically mention Iran, it is clearly meant to reassert the Congressional war-making power to prevent such a conflict.

Rep. Jones said, “The framers of our Constitution sought to decentralize the war powers of the United States and construct a balance between the political branches. Throughout American history, this balance too often has been ignored. Since U.S. involvement in Korea, presidents of both parties have used military force abroad without the consent of Congress. Our Constitution states that – while the Commander in Chief has the power to conduct wars – only Congress has the power to declare war. Too many times this Congress has not met its constitutional duty of oversight & has abdicated its constitutional authorities to the executive branch. It is for this reason that I have introduced H. J. Res. 53 – the Constitutional War Powers Resolution. As threats to international peace and security continue to evolve, the Constitutional War Powers Resolution rededicates Congress to its primary constitutional role of deciding when to use force abroad.”

According to the resolution’s sponsors, H. J. Res 53 would:

>Prohibit presidential entry into hostilities without Congressional action except: to repel and retaliate for an attack on the United States, to repel an attack on U.S. troops or to protect and evacuate U.S. citizens;
>Provide a more robust presidential reporting requirement so that Congress may be more informed and able to exercise improved oversight;
>Provide for judicial review to enforce compliance by giving automatic standing to members of Congress; and
>Only permit the use of federal funds for military actions taken pursuant to the resolution.

H.J.Res. 53 is also co-sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA).

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also reasserted the role of Congress under the War Powers Act during an interview on ABC's "This Week" program on October 14, "We don't believe that any authorities that the president has would give him the ability to go in without an act of Congress. Any president, if we are attacked, if our country is attacked has -- even under the War Powers Act -- very strong powers to go after that country. But short of that, he must come to the Congress."

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