Some in Congress seek to reclaim their war powers from the presidency
There seems to be a new appreciation among some members of Congress that their branch of government has ceded too much power to the executive over certain areas of foreign policy, and wants to get them back.
A bipartisan move to recover congressional authority over things like national emergency declarations and arms sales is a case in point:
The bill aims, for the first time, to define what type of “hostilities” require a president to seek congressional approval before committing military resources; establish expiration dates for national emergencies and military authorizations; and automatically curtail funding for any operation a president continues without explicit congressional support.
That’s good – and long overdue. Congressional deference to presidents has embroiled the national in conflicts around the globe, including the so-called “endless wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite the cross-party appeal of curbing presidential adventurism, the votes are still not there to get something passed:
…it is likely to face stiff head winds from lawmakers who defend presidential authority to make decisions affecting national security without constantly seeking permission from Congress, and from the administration itself. On Tuesday, one of its authors even acknowledged that the bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, while expressing hope it will “stimulate a conversation within Congress” about asserting its national security powers.
Getting the conversation underway is good. But it needs to lead to firm action. Regrettably, Congress has many members who have no qualms about surrendering their constitutional authority and statutory oversight powers to presidents who want to play war.
Such mindless followership needs to end.