Commission Recommends War Powers Overhaul

James Baker (left) and Warren Christopher

hide captionFormer U.S. secretaries of state James Baker (left) and Warren Christopher, members of the National War Powers Commission, in Washington, D.C., on July 8.

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

A bipartisan commission is recommending new legislation that would foster more consultation between the president and Congress before the nation goes to war.

The proposed legislation would replace the War Powers Act, passed in 1973 by a Vietnam-weary Congress that wanted to check the president's ability to initiate an unpopular war. Observers of all political persuasions have called the 1973 resolution vague and impractical.

The National War Powers Commission, led by former secretaries of state James Baker and Warren Christopher, recommends creating a joint congressional committee with whom the president would have to consult before sending troops into conflict. The full Congress would have 30 days to ratify any military action.

The new proposal would lead to clarity and consultation, which are lacking under the current War Powers Act, says international law professor Michael Glennon, a former legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who also consulted with the commission.

"It would be a better policy, because if you can't sell a war to the Congress, you can't sell it to the American people," says Glennon. "It's good for Congress and the president to be on the same page when a war starts, and that's the whole purpose of the war powers resolution."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: