War Power Must Be Jointly Held

Ex-State chiefs propose bill requiring Congress, prez to have defined, cooperative roles
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 12:05 PM CDT
War Power Must Be Jointly Held
Warren Christopher   (Magnum Photos)

Calling the current system “ineffective at best and unconstitutional at worst,” two former Secretaries of State propose a sweeping update of law governing powers to declare war—whereby the president would be required to seek permission from Congress for “significant armed conflict” (lasting more than a week). In the New York Times, James Baker and Warren Christopher take both branches to task.

Their National War Powers Commission concludes that 1973's War Powers Act—meant to limit the executive's hand—“ambiguously divides” authority, and has thus “been regularly ignored.” Their proposed law would give Congress 30 days to accept or reject a presidential request for military force, clarifying the code and balancing what the Times calls “longstanding tension.” (Read more war powers stories.)

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