“The Congress shall have the Power to … provide for the common defence and general Welfare… declare War … and raise and support armies … and make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces”

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Predictably, at his latest reelection rally, President Trump slammed Democrats and the House for passage of the Iran War Powers Resolution, an effort he believes restrains his ability to unilaterally use future military actions against Iran without prior congressional approval; which it does.  A similar resolution will be introduced in the Senate, with two thoughtful Senators, Paul (KY) and Lee (UT), prepared to support the measure.

These efforts are long overdue.

The War Powers Act (also the War Powers Resolution) was enacted in November 1973 over a veto by President Nixon. The law memorializes that “the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply” whenever the American armed forces are deployed overseas.  It requires the president to consult with the legislature “in every possible instance” before committing troops to war.

It further directs the president to notify Congress within 48 hours whenever military forces are introduced “into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances.”  Finally, it mandates the president cease such foreign military actions after 60 days unless Congress provides a “declaration of war” or an authorization for the operation to continue.

The War Powers Act does not impair a president’s ability to react to imminent foreign emergencies and threats to America.  Subsequently, a president must comply with the requirements of the War Powers Act. 

Still, the President, the minions in his Administration and Congressional sycophants falsely claim Article II effectively gives a president unlimited powers to use the military as they see fit.  While the Constitution states, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”, nowhere does it give a president the right, as Trump loves to declare, “to do anything I want”.

Since enacted, every President has evaded or circumvented some of the law’s provisions, occasionally declaring the War Power Act was unconstitutional. Challenges to the law have occurred when Reagan deployed troops to El Salvador, during Clinton’s bombing campaign of Kosovo and concerning Obama’s military actions in Libya.

Unfortunately, Congress has consistently yielded to the Executive. Since World War II, presidents have sent America’s military to fight “undeclared” wars more than 20 times costing America more than 102,689 lives, 298,574 wounded and more than $10 trillion (nearly $6 trillion since 9/11 alone) and counting; with precious few victories to show for the terrible cost!

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, whose role is to adjudicate constitutional matters abdicated its responsibility when, in 2000, it refused to hear a case on whether the law had been violated during military operations in Yugoslavia.

Now, Congress, must begin to reaffirm and reclaim its constitutionally-enumerated powers, including its most far reaching one, that of declaring war and sending our nation’s men and women in harm’s way.

Given the grave concerns the drafters of the Constitution had about any president becoming too powerful, autocratic or unanswerable to the people, they wisely created a structure of three Branches of our federal government, specifically enumerating the roles, responsibilities and limitations of each and a system providing checks-and-balances each Branch had on the others.

It is noteworthy, there is no language anywhere in the Constitution permitting one Branch to delegate any of their enumerated powers to another Branch.  Had the Founders wanted to allow such delegation, appropriate language would have been included.

Members of Congress and the Supreme Court must not operate as agents of their political parties or any presidential administration; their fundamental purpose is to be stewards of the Constitution and of the liberties of the people.