A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would dramatically reduce presidential war powers, a long-term effort that nonetheless reflected a growing interest by lawmakers in reasserting congressional prerogatives over war and peace.
The bill, introduced by Senators Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, seeks to reclaim the authority of Congress by imposing greater restrictions on the 1973 War Powers Resolution, a landmark. law that says presidents must obtain congressional approval after introducing armed forces into hostilities, or terminate them after 60 days. The bill would add a provision that would automatically reduce funding for military operations that have not been authorized by Congress and reduce the time period during which presidents must end unauthorized military operations.
In a major change, it would also withdraw existing military force authorizations – including measures approved by Congress for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2002 – and define what amounts to “hostilities.” ”, Under the resolution on the powers of war. Previous administrations have interpreted the term narrowly to conduct military operations without congressional approval.
“Let us never forget those moments in history when our country was tragically led to wars that should never have been fought,” said Mr. Sanders. Many of these wars, he said, were “based on the failure of the United States Congress to ask the important questions the American people would have wanted to ask.” And this process must end.
The bill is unlikely to pass, as senators have been reluctant to approve much more restrictive measures. But it comes as lawmakers from both parties have expressed renewed interest in restraining the presidential war authorities, as voters tire of the country’s intractable military conflicts abroad.
In the coming weeks, senators are expected to debate whether to repeal the 2002 authorization of military force that Congress gave President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. The House voted for his dismissal last month.
The legislation introduced on Tuesday also seeks to reaffirm the authority of Congress over arms sales and presidential emergency powers. This would require Congress to approve sales of weapons worth more than $ 14 million and containing certain destructive weapons, such as air-to-surface munitions. Currently, administration-approved arms sales are delivered without debate, unless Congress is able to muster a veto-proof majority in both chambers to block them.
It would also require lawmakers to proactively approve declarations of emergency, which allow a president to access military funding and special powers based on the determination of urgent circumstances. Former President Donald J. Trump used one in 2019 to mine billions of dollars Congress refused to provide for the construction of a border wall, for example, and lawmakers have failed to collect the voice to cancel it. The bill would require Congress to approve both the declaration as well as a specified set of emergency powers that would expire in 30 days.
“This is one of those topics that Washington can get completely engrossed in domestic politics one day, then a toggle switch, a crisis occurs and we are completely engrossed in a foreign national security emergency the next day,” he said. Mr Murphy said. . “Better start this conversation now. “