The U.S. Constitution splits the federal government's war-making powers between the president and the Congress, giving the latter the sole authority to declare war. But don't tell Sarah Huckabee Sanders that.
This morning, the president's former press secretary said that the worst thing for America would be for Congress to actually exercise its constitutionally prescribed role.
"I can't think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy," Sanders said during an appearance on Fox and Friends this morning. "They can't seem to manage to get much of anything done. I think the last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress' hands and take them away from the president."
Fox News contributor Sarah Sanders on war powers: "I can't think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy … The last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress' hands and take them away from the president." (h/t .@tylermonroe7) pic.twitter.com/85M0y3E4II
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 9, 2020
Sanders was responding to a question about the War Powers Act resolutions pending in both the House and Senate. The legislation calls on President Donald Trump to "remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military" within 30 days unless Congress passes a declaration of war or another authorization of military force.
Preventing the president from starting an undeclared, and therefore unconstitutional, war? Sanders thinks that's way outside the purview of Congress. "The last thing I want to do is see them take power away from President Trump and put it into their own hands," she said. "I don't think anything could be worse for America than that."
The point of splitting the power to declare war from the power to wage it is to ensure some level of deliberation and popular input before the U.S. enters a conflict the whole country will have to fight. But Sanders seems to prefer an alternative constitutional arrangement where the president can decide to start a conflict on a whim.
She's far from alone in thinking this. Just last night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) denounced two of his Republican colleagues, Sens. Mike Lee (R–Utah) and Rand Paul (R– Ky.), for supporting the war powers resolution. Paul and Lee, Graham declared, were "empowering the enemy."
The truth is rather different. Given the reckless and incompetent way Trump dragged this country to the brink of war with Iran, imposing a little restraint on the executive sounds like one of the better things Congress could be doing.