War Powers

Bipartisan Bill Would Limit Presidential War Powers and Emergency Declarations

The bill is the most far-reaching recent proposal of its kind.

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Earlier today, an unlikely coalition of senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would impose significant curbs on presidential power to initiate armed conflict and declare "national emergencies." Neither idea is entirely new. But this proposal is distinctive because of its broad reach, and its combining of the two issues in one bill. The Washington Post summarizes the bill's war powers provisions:

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation Tuesday to give Congress a more active role in approving arms sales, authorizing the use of military force and declaring national emergencies, in an across-the-board effort to claw back national security power from the executive branch.

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….

The comprehensive measure imposes more stringent restrictions than current law does, and comes as Washington grapples with whether and how to repeal long-running authorizations for use of military force, or AUMFs, including those passed nearly two decades ago to greenlight U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan…..

I support nearly all of the above, and have long argued for a reassertion of congressional power in this field, most recently in this Washington Post op ed, published in March. For what it is worth, I have maintained that position under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

While the three senators are right to seek total repeal of the 1957 and 1991 AUMFs (both of which are moribund, anyway) and the 2002 Iraq AUMF (aimed at Saddam Hussein's long-defunct regime), I would prefer to revise and narrow rather than completely repeal the 2001 "War on Terror" AUMF, as I think there are good reasons to continue military operations against some radical Islamist groups in the Middle East. I am also not sure what to make of the arms sales provisions.

But the overall thrust of the proposal strikes me as sound. There is a strong case for limiting presidential power to initiate conflict on both constitutional and pragmatic grounds. I have summarized them in many past writings, such as here and here.

The bipartisan proposal would also impose tight constraints on presidential powers to issue "national emergency" declarations, like the one Donald Trump used to divert funds for his border wall project:

Typically, it is difficult for Congress to come up with veto-proof majorities to block presidential action. That was also the case in 2019, when Trump declared a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, to enable him to divert billions of dollars in military construction funds by fiat to build a wall. The new bill from Murphy, Lee and Sanders would curtail any national emergency that Congress does not approve within 30 days, and it would limit Congress's authorizations of such emergencies to one year at a time, with a total limit of five years.

Soon after taking office, President Biden revoked Trump's 2019 border wall emergency declaration. That ended Trump's legally dubious diversions of military funds to build the wall.  An appropriations bill Congress enacted in December 2020 imposes severe limitations on any future funding diversions of the same type.

But the broader danger of presidential emergency declarations remains. As currently understood, the National Emergencies Act (NEA) gives the president broad power to declare emergencies at will, thereby granting himself indefinite authority to invoke an extraordinarily wide range of powers—including some very scary ones, such as a potential internet "kill switch," testing biological weapons on unwilling test subjects, and much else.

I have argued there are substantive limits to what qualifies as an "emergency" under the NEA. But it is hard to say whether courts will accept that position, or whether they would instead defer to the president's judgment of what counts as an "emergency."

The bipartisan proposal would not fully revamp the NEA. But it would at least eliminate the dangerous situation under which, once a president declares an emergency, it lasts indefinitely unless and until Congress can assemble an improbable veto-proof majority to repeal it, or the president himself decides to end it. The proposal does leave room for unilateral presidential action for a 30 day period, which should be enough time for Congress to act if there really is a need for more extended emergency powers.

On both war initiation and emergency powers, I would ask partisans to reflect on the long-term implications. If you are a Democrat and you trust Biden to wield such sweeping powers, do you similarly trust the next Republican president? Republicans who were happy to see Trump use them should ask whether they feel the same way about Biden—or Kamala Harris should she become president in the event of Biden's incapacity or his choosing not to run for reelection in 2024. If you think the opposing party can't be trusted to wield such authority, that's a strong argument against giving it to the president in the first place.

I am no fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders, particularly his "democratic socialism." I also have substantial (though less sweeping) differences with Chris Murphy and Mike Lee (the other two Senate sponsors), as well. But the three of them are largely right on this set of issues, and deserve credit for trying to move the ball.

Their proposal isn't perfect. It also faces long odds against passage. While the Biden administration has previously endorsed some of the ideas it contains, including revamping the AUMF system, no president really likes constraints on his own powers. But the fact that it is being taken seriously is at least a step in the right direction. Hopefully, there will be more.

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  1. Republicans argue it is vital to maintaining active operations against groups that continue to pose a threat to the United States, while most Democrats acknowledge it needs to be updated or replaced.

    Nothing partisan here, move along.

    But the bill sounds promising, even with anti-Israel impetus from Bernie.

    1. My question will if this will include Biden’s “Emergency” edicts such as the asinine mask mandates?

      If not, why not? The POTUS was never intended to have this kind of authority…

      1. It is about war powers and military action Ed.
        And even that is unlikely to pass.

        “POTUS was never intended to have this kind of authority”
        Says who besides you?

        1. No, it is about emergency powers too. Not limited to the military.

          The bipartisan proposal would also impose tight constraints on presidential powers to issue “national emergency” declarations, like the one Donald Trump used to divert funds for his border wall project:

          1. Trump’s emergency order has nothing to do with whatever emergency edict Ed is on about.

            1. Were they both declared “national emergencies”? Then yes, they both count.

              1. Magic words do not make disparate things the same.

                I can’t tell what Ed is talking about. Best I can tell, it’s an EO about Federal buildings.

                That is very different than invoking a power to reprogram funds crafted and delegated by an act of Congress.

                1. Ed is talking about Bite Me’s EO requiring face diapers on all forms of transit — or his EO ordering his bureaucrats to issue their orders.

                  The Constitution states that the POTUS shall “see that the laws are faithfully executed”, not that he shall write them — and the entire concept of admin law was never anticipated in 1789.

                  Look at how long it took Jefferson to send ships to Tripoli. And we never were intended to have a standing *Army*, let alone an Air (and now Space) Force. In 1789, a President *couldn’t* start a war without Congress having ample time to cut off the funding if it so desired.

                  Yes, we need a NORAD — but even Ben Franklin couldn’t have imagined radar, let alone the concept of supersonic jet interceptors standing by on 24/7 alert…

                  1. The EO doesn’t seem to require any emergency finding to work. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/21/executive-order-promoting-covid-19-safety-in-domestic-and-international-travel/

                    As for your thinking there is no originalist case for the administrative state, check out early post offices and tax collectors.

                    And I don’t know your plan in arguing the Air Force is unconstitutional under an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.

                    1. Gosh, you don’t suppose the post office and tax collectors actually had their own specific constitutional authorizations, do you? Rather than resting on some nebulous authority to create administrative departments?

                      Under an originalist reading of the constitution, the only real question about the Air Force is whether it’s an army or part of the navy. (Since the Constitution treats them differently in terms of length of appropriations.)

                      I’d say that, constitutionally, the Air Force makes more sense as a fleet in the Navy. But I will admit that in 1948 there was an AG ruling that considered the Air Force to be an army.

                      Mind, I’m not entirely sure Congress is still complying with the requirement that Army appropriations be for no more than two years at a time anyway. Even a hundred years ago they’d mostly interpreted it away.

                    2. The Administrative State is a means of exercising enumerated power, not a power itself.

                      Spending for general welfare is a power under an originalist reading of the Constitution.

                      I’m with you on the Air Force, I just don’t see what Ed was trying to say.

                      Research money across the government has a 2-year timespan to obligate. I think military construction has 5.

                    3. Brett — Congress has the power to “provide and maintain a Navy” but only to “raise and support Armies.”

                      Note also that “Armies” is plural.

                      My take on this has always been that the authors expected “Armies” to be “raised” only in response to specific wars while they intended to have a standing Navy.

                  2. If only supersonic jets were the biggest worry for NORAD.

                    1. With the exception of whatever classified resources they may have, a supersonic interceptor is the fastest *response* they have, and one which they can and do deploy with routine frequency.

                  3. “Ed is talking about Bite Me’s EO requiring face diapers on all forms of transit”

                    Ed is ranting about whatever the right-win outrage -of-the-day might happen to be, and should be ignored as usual.

        2. “POTUS was never intended to have this kind of authority”
          Says who besides you?

          The Founding Fathers and anyone else who studies history, from ancient Rome and Greece, to 1930s Germany, up to the present in Venezuela, Turkey, and so on, where some leader demands, and gets, emergency powers, and uses them to solidify power, never giving them up.

          National mandates? No. Just recommend to states and let them deal with it as traditional.

          History isn’t a stuffy rote memorization effort. It is predictive science. These instances were with the cheers of the masses.

          Cheers like yours.

          1. Anyone who studies history – including the Founders – knows that emergency powers and even martial law are absolutely part of the suite of powers an effective leader has. See: Cincinnatus, and The Revolutionary War, and the Civil War.

            Yes, it is sometimes abused, but it is quite ahistorical to point to confirming anecdotes and argue that the executive power does not include the ability to take action in an emergency.

            I’m absolutely for this bill, clarifying the boundaries and conditions when such use is legitimate beyond the ‘you know it when you see it’ that’s been the assumption basically forever.

            History is descriptive. It is not predictive. Case and point, your confirmation-biased narrative here. You want to believe, and thus you find evidence to do so.

            1. Lincoln exercised powers he did not have — let’s start with the suspension of Habeus Corpus in Maryland, which technically was never in rebellion (because Lincoln prevented that). Amongst other things, Lincoln threw at least a third of the MD Legislature in jail, and Roger Taney wrote in his diary that he expected Lincoln to do the same to him.

              FDR exercised a lot of powers he didn’t have — SCOTUS kept saying so until there was the “switch in time that saved nine” and then more modern Presidents have done even more.

              Heck, Congress once ran the DC School System. Congress has ceded a LOT of the power it once had.

              1. Congress running the DC school system was actually perfectly constitutional; One of Congress’s enumerated powers is,

                “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings;”

                In DC, the federal government operates as though it were a state, unconstrained by the limitations it’s supposed to have elsewhere.

                1. My point is that Congress is NOT doing it now — when Congress was doing it, they had Dunbar High School, and that ain’t what it once was…

                  Check out the stats on the University of DC sometime…

                2. To reply to your comment about the Air Force, it began as the Army Air Force. The Marine Corps began as a part of the Navy. The 5th branch, the Coast Guard, always on their own, as far as I recall. I’m a single branch proponent. Less waste of money for different logistics sites, training areas and doctrines, uniforms. One armed service, multiple missions. It’ll happen around the time Congress votes themselves a pay cut and term limits.

          2. “The Founding Fathers and anyone else who studies history, from ancient Rome and Greece, to 1930s Germany, up to the present in Venezuela, Turkey, and so on”

            Hopefully, at least some of the anyone elses who study history will have ever heard of Cincinnatus,unlike Krayt here.

    2. Does this law limit the killing of hackers, or the killing of adversary oligarchs? I would oppose it if it does.

      1. People have not yet recognized the Theory of Chaotic Competition of the Oligarchs as a driver of history. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a theory of competition for money and power by oligarchic families.

        If it true, we should stop killing millions of peasants and working people on their behalf. Do not even bother killing the political leadership of the enemy. They are mere employees, and totally fungible. We should just kill the oligarchs of the adversary. To deter.

        No one has done that before, as a matter of national policy, to my knowledge. The Theory can save lives and property yet achieve conquest cheaply and quickly.

      2. “Does this law limit the killing of hackers”

        Just ordinary law doing that. It is not now legal nor has it ever been legal to kill people for being interested in computers.

  2. I am fine with this. I do not want that much power in Biden’s hands, and we should not be fighting forever wars.

    1. I think (hope??) that you meant to write, “…don’t want that much power in Biden’s or Trump’s or any future president’s…” instead of limiting it to just Biden.

      1. Especially Biden.

        1. Yeah, Biden is truly our most power-hungry and dangerous president.

          Dial down your partisanship for a moment; it’s okay to just think the Presidency is too powerful without adding some dig to make sure no one thinks you’re going soft.

          1. I’d say Biden had some ways to go to challenge FDR for the record, or Lincoln. But he’s only 6 months into his term, give him time.

            1. Nothing says “emerging fanatic” like a lifelong, practical centrist.
              But there was that one time where he was seen chumming with a black guy, so maybe his career was just a Trojan Horse meant to bring him to this moment.

              1. A lifelong “practical centrist” is more likely to be power-hungry than the alternative.

                And to that extent, they may be more likely to be “dangerous” as well, though that would be moreso about competence, energy, apathy, and ideology (i.e. the degree to which they asset to communist-like thinking).

  3. Largely agree, but with a concern I do not know how to allay. All the military stuff seems good to me.

    The concern is about public health emergencies—likely to be, by far, the deadliest kind of emergency the nation ever experiences. Increasingly, we have seen politicians so opportunistic that they would do literally any amount of harm to the nation—political action to let millions die on purpose during a pandemic, by obstructing public health measures, is a real possibility—especially if they thought the public would blame an incumbent president opponent for the outcome.

    Anti-patriots of that sort will not hesitate to support such attacks by lying about what the president has done, and about their own political actions and positions. Technology to spread such lies, and to make them more pervasive and effective, will only improve over time. Without an effective institutionalist check against that kind of vicious political conduct, I might be inclined to say take public health emergencies off the bill. Can anyone think of some institutionalist means to check political opportunists who would otherwise inflict catastrophic harm on the nation to gain political power for themselves?

    1. I suspect that one of the reasons politicians have acted so badly during the coronavirus situation is a lack of good incentives created by the current system.

      In a different system, President Trump would have had to ask Congress for emergency powers, and Congress would have voted for them, because that’s basically a bill you can’t vote “no” on.

    2. Wow, that’s some rant.

      So, you think Trump should have had some way to suppress lies about his Covid policies? Gotta say, I did not see that coming.

      I see no way, and I mean NO way, to ‘to check political opportunists who would otherwise inflict catastrophic harm on the nation to gain political power for themselves’ that would not be USED by political opportunists to gain political power for themselves. There is no sword the other side can’t pick up and use against you. A gun does not care whose hand it is in.

      The only hope here is that the truth will have the advantage over lies in an open society, because it sure as hell has no advantage over lies in a closed one.

      1. The other thing is that for all Trump was defined as being a fascist megalomaniac, he claimed far FAR less “emergency” powers than almost anyone else would have.

      2. Brett, you are making the case for taking public health emergencies off the bill.

        1. I think we’d already established that you were being irrational on this topic, now we’ve established that it’s compromised your reading comprehension, too.

          The last couple of years have demonstrated that ‘public health’ emergency powers are, if anything, MORE subject to abuse than natural disaster or military emergency powers, because they’re going to have much wider application than the former, and unlike the latter, tend to be directed at Americans.

          Responses to Covid 19 did more damage to America than the virus did! The virus killed some people, sure, but the response devastated our economy and damaged our liberties in what looks to be an ongoing way.

          1. When you consider the increased poverty, depression, suicide and domestic violence, it’s very likely that the response killed more people than the virus did, too.

          2. Responses to Covid 19 did more damage to America than the virus did! The virus killed some people, sure, but the response devastated our economy and damaged our liberties in what looks to be an ongoing way.

            This is ridiculous when stated about a virus that racked up Civil War-level death totals.

            1. Out of a much larger population, sure, and assuming the death totals actually are being properly attributed between Covid and other causes; We ARE after all paying medical facilities to label every possible death as Covid related.

              And we’re going to have elevated non-Covid deaths for years to come, thanks to basically shutting down ‘elective’ medical procedures like, oh, cancer and heart treatments, to be prepared for a surge of Covid patients that never materialized.

              As well, poverty kills, and we caused a lot of poverty last year.

              Now, if the lockdowns and other insanity had majorly reduced Covid deaths, that might have been a reasonable tradeoff. But the best evidence is that the lockdowns accomplished squat beyond cratering the economy.

            2. “Civil War-level”

              I think that it’s wise to use per capita numbers for that kind of comparison, and the Civil War US population was something like a twelfth of the current population.

              1. Absaroka, on the other hand, the rate of killing with the virus was imposing. Adjust for both population and time, and the comparison still shows the Civil War was deadlier, but the comparison is notably closer. Compare the virus to WWII and the virus was far deadlier. Twice the fatalities in one-third the time. And the virus isn’t done.

                1. Sure. Or to compare pandemics, per capita, a third of the 1918 pandemic.

                  As an aside, I’m not convinced about your ‘per year’ point. If one war lasts two years and has 100k casualties, while another lasts three years but has 125k casualties, I don’t think I’d say the first was deadlier because the per annum number is higher. In other contexts, of course, say heart disease vs cancer, annual comparisons make sense.

          3. One may want to read before jumping to conclusions:
            “COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink,”
            Frontiers in Public Health, February 2021 | Volume 9 | Article 625778

    3. ” Increasingly, we have seen politicians so opportunistic that they would do literally any amount of harm to the nation—political action to let millions die on purpose during a pandemic, by obstructing public health measures,”

      The “public health bureaucrats who want to enact those public health measures are themselves politicians.

      And they can do a hell of a lot of harm with bad decisions, even with the best of intentions.

      1. Slyfield, no one can gainsay that what you say will prove true from time to time. But do you suppose that means it is wise to structure emergency political power based on expectation that it can deliver only harm? Should the nation go into the next pandemic—perhaps one with far graver potential than even Covid19—in the expectation that attempts to cope will devolve into nothing better than a contest of competing harms? Is it your notion that the best political response to, for instance, weaponized smallpox, would be que sera sera?

        1. Stephen, if you’re worried about something like weaponized smallpox, making provisions for ad hoc, after the fact responses is stupid. If you want to cope with something like that, you need major preparations in advance.

          Requiring people to maintain stockpiles of non-perishable food and water at home, so they genuinely are able to hole up for an extended period without grocery runs.

          Encouraging wider use of HEPA filtration and UV sterilizers, and self-sanitizing surfaces.

          Making changes to our infrastructure so that it can run for an extended period with a skeleton crew.

          Supplying each member of Congress with a shelter with communications facilities, so that the institution can function anyway.

          Better medical monitoring, at the border and internally. Maybe air filters in public places connected to gene sequencers, that can sound an alert BEFORE people start dropping dead.

          Emergency powers are what people need when they haven’t made adequate advance preparations. And are already screwed, and are just trying to minimize the damage. They’re no substitute for being prepared.

          And it makes perfect sense that genuine emergency powers would be very short term. “Emergencies” are very short term; If you’re more than a week into one, it’s not “emerging” anymore, it’s time for longer term measures adopted in normal order.

          1. ” Emergency powers are what people need when they haven’t made adequate advance preparations. ”

            Does conservatism generate this level of dumbassery, or merely attract it?

          2. Brett, the cost of constant vigilance at a scale sufficient to preclude emergency measures would be staggering. It is never economically reasonable—or reasonable in myriad other practical ways—to prepare adequately, all the time, for low probability extreme contingencies.

            And it makes no sense at all to suppose that emergency measures to combat pandemic disease would be short term. The world has been beset repeatedly, over millennia, with periods of pandemic illness. In the past, those periods tended to stick around for years. We can do better, but no reasonable scenario available now promises to make the next such episode, “very short term.”

  4. “But it is hard to say whether courts will accept that position, or whether they would instead defer to the president’s judgment of what counts as an “emergency.””

    The latter, I expect, in as much as the NEA explicitly vests the decision as to whether or not there’s an emergency in the President’s hands.

  5. Considering what a dead letter the War Powers Act has been (Kosovo, Libya, etc.), I see no reason that this proposal would do better. And I don’t care about arms sales, but a bill motivated by Sanders’s hostility to Israel, which in fact does not constrain arms sales to Israel, is typical of the efforts that congressmen and law professors spend their time on.

  6. Ilya, this is another flaw in the Constitution that I discussed in my email to you of last month. I have actually edited my revision to deal with the war powers issue by requiring a declaration of war to be the only mechanism for engaging in an act of war and requiring a supermajority to pass such a declaration and finally, limiting the time a declaration is in effect which can be annually renewed by a supermajority.

    1. The problem is that ICBMs can be here and incinerate us in less than 30 minutes…

      1. Good point but I do address that contingency in my proposal to Ilya:

        “Congress shall have no authority…To authorize an act of war by any act of law other than a declaration of war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay, as defined by Congress;”

  7. Definitely long over due. I hope that we can make some reforms. I accept that some times the President will need to make decision in real time, but there is no reason those should not require Congressional approval within 30 or 90 days.

    Regarding arms sales to Israel, is there any real concern here that the Israel are in need of the weapons. I suspect they have as much as they need and enough money to get anything else needed. This should not be anything that stops Congress from taking back some authority.

    1. “Regarding arms sales to Israel, is there any real concern here that the Israel are in need of the weapons. I suspect they have as much as they need and enough money to get anything else needed.”

      Having a bit of trouble with the concept of arms “sales”? As in, they pay for them? Having the money doesn’t do you any good if the people with the arms aren’t allowed to sell them to you, and US law requires government permission to sell these things overseas.

      1. Israel PAYS for their arms?!? GTFO.

        OK, sure – from the funds THE U.S. sends to them.

        “In 2016, the U.S. and Israeli governments signed their third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid,
        covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledged to provide—subject to congressional
        appropriation—$38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense
        appropriations) to Israel. This MOU followed a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which ran through FY2018.

        Israel is the first international operator of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Department of Defense’s fifth-generation stealth
        aircraft, considered to be the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever made. To date, Israel has purchased 50 F-35s in
        three separate contracts, funded with U.S. assistance.

        For FY2021, the Trump Administration requested $3.3 billion in FMF for Israel and $500 million in missile defense aid to
        mark the second year of the MOU. The Administration also requested $5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance
        humanitarian funding for migrants to Israel.

        H.R. 7608—State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and
        Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2021 (which passed the House in July 2020) would, among other things, provide $3.3
        billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel.

        H.R. 7617—The Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General
        Government, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development
        Appropriations Act, 2021 (which passed the House in July 2020) would provide $500 million in joint U.S.-Israeli missile
        defense cooperation (of which $73 million for Iron Dome, $177 million for David’s Sling, $77 million for Arrow III, and
        $173 million for Arrow II).

        https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

        1. We partially pay for them, yes, but not entirely. Israel is currently replacing all of the now-decommissioned F16A/B fighters it had so I expect they’ll be paying quite a bit. I don’t know the breakdown for Israel but FMF also includes loans, not just grants, and reach deal still requires them to invest money into some US fund or security.

          1. As well, they do a lot of military technology development for us, it’s a two way street.

  8. Could not have been done under Trump, but is possible under Biden, fortunately.

    1. Actually, the opposite is true. This could have been something passed by an overridden veto under Trump; the same Dems wouldn’t do this under Biden.

  9. Let me gaze into my crystal ball and predict one of two outcomes:

    -This bill is buried alive in committee, or

    -It’s watered down and passed in a version which says “the President is hereby required to do the right thing as he sees it.”

  10. Actually, Trump used DoD funds that were allocated to be spent “at the discretion of the Secretary.” Same type of funds Obama used to pay off Iran.

    Until Congress is willing to write laws specifically appropriating every dollar in the budget, the executive will retain control.

    1. The DoD funds were directed to go to military construction projects Congress specified, not just some slush fund for the SecDef.

  11. The arms sales thing is interesting. I can see that it’s well within Congress’s powers to regulate arms sales by legislation, but to the extent that Congress wants to leave scope for a discretionary decision, case by case, then that looks to me like a purely executive function.

    Whether it’s an affirmative vote, or a blocking vote, why isn’t this a separation of powers problem ?

    If not, would Congress be able, say, to make laws governing the collection of taxes, but provide that the IRS couldn’t start tax investigations into, say, a candidate for federal office, without an affrimative vote by each chamber of Congress ? Seems iffy to me.

    1. It’s already iffy given tax investigations into political opponents are no novelty.

  12. Good first step.

    I’m always for Congress taking more control.

    1. Or presidents losing some of their control, myself.

      1. I’m just thankful when we have a president who can exhibit self-control.

  13. “But the fact that it is being taken seriously is at least a step in the right direction.”

    Someone has no idea how many bills with zero chance get introduced each year.

    Its 3 senators. “A handful of senators don’t pass legislation” especially when it covers so much ground. A half way serious bill would not combine repeal of existing authorities, restrict future acts and deal with arms sale. Too many lobbyist push points.

    Its not “serious” at all.

  14. “Republicans who were happy to see Trump use them should ask whether they feel the same way about Biden—or Kamala Harris should she become president in the event of Biden’s incapacity or his choosing not to run for reelection in 2024.”

    I would feel the same way.

    There is little or no history of presidents, even Democrats, misusing the power. Trump used military force against new targets twice, killing that Iranian terrorist general and after a chemical attack in Syria. Both completely justified and, by the way, not affected by this legislation.

    1. Trump’s “national emergency” declaration he used to misappropriate funds to meet a silly campaign promise would be impacted by this legislation.

  15. It would define “hostilities” as any operation involving the use of force, remotely or directly — superseding the unofficial custom of administrations interpreting the law as applying only when there are combat troops on the ground. It also would shorten the time that presidents have to engage in those hostilities from 60 to 20 days and automatically terminate funding for an operation if a president fails to secure congressional support for the venture by that deadline….

    Yeah, automatically cutting off funding while troops are dying in the field. That’ll work. The minute that happens Congress’s head will spin so fast in providing additional funding that it will be a blur.

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