December 13, 2010
Ricky Ravin, Mrs. Mooney The Power to Declare War
Congress and the president use their powers to check and balance each other. One power of Congress is the ability to declare war. However, Congress generally gives the president control during war time. Because of this, the president is able to acquire more power over the war while Congress can do little if they have already given their approval. After the Vietnam War, in which Presidents Johnson and Nixon continued to wage despite a divided Congress[i]; they decided that the Constitution did not warrant the president to have the power to declare war, so they passed the War Powers Resolution[ii]. While the War Powers Act was meant to explicitly limit presidential war powers, it is largely ignored by the president, who holds the power to send troops into combat.
According to Section 2C of the War Powers Act, the constitution states that the president holds the right to send troops into combat only after: a Congressional declaration of war, a specific statutory authorization, or in a National emergency created by an attack on the United States. Since the president does not follow this statement, the War Powers Act attempts to curb some of the powers he has obtained that have been set by precedent. Under Section 3, the act states that if possible, the president must consult with Congress before sending troops into combat, and he must report to Congress regularly on the status of the war. Section 4 is more specific, it states that if troops are sent into war without a declaration, the president needs to report on: why it’s necessary, the constitutional authority under which such introduction took place, and the estimated duration of the war. Furthermore, it states that between sixty and ninety days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted, the president must terminate use of troops...