Senators want to recapture military power from the executive


The law faces great opportunities to become law, but it represents the latest and greatest effort legislature has made to give Congress a greater role in determining how U.S. forces are deployed around the world .

The bill, tabled by Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and GOP Senator Mike Lee from Utah, would revise the War Powers Act to allow “hostility” from Congress within 20 days to request, and would automatically start funding unauthorized military operations.

Also, Congress would have to vote to approve foreign arms sales over $ 14 million. In the current procedure, Congress has to raise a veto-proof majority within a limited time window in order to block arms sales.

“In the past few decades there has been a very dangerous shift in national security and bellicose powers from legislative to executive,” Murphy said at a news conference Tuesday. “This shift in national security powers to the president has resulted in endless wars, ruthless arms sales, and national emergencies that seem to have no end.”

The senators who enact the law represent a broad ideological spectrum, but have the same concerns about foreign policy and the growing military power of the executive branch over the past two decades, despite the power of Congress to declare war in the Constitution.

Congress wants to revoke war permits

Efforts are under way to revoke the 2002 Iraq War permit, which was approved prior to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. In June, California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee passed a bill in the House of Representatives, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to soon pass a similar bill by Sens. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, will assume.

The Biden government supports a 2002 revocation of the military force permit because it is no longer needed.

Legislators are also envisaging a revision of the 2001 War Permit, which was passed in the days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, despite recognizing the fight against that permit – the one cited by several governments for military action around the world was – is a bigger elevator.

Many Republicans oppose the 2002 war permit waiver, arguing they should not handcuff the commander in chief while US forces and personnel in Iraq are being attacked by Iran-backed militias. It’s still unclear whether Kaine and Young’s efforts in the Senate have the votes, let alone replace 2001’s broader approval.

The new legislation by Murphy, Sanders, and Lee would go further and invalidate all existing war permits within six months.

Murphy admitted that getting the White House involved in legislation would be challenging, but said he hoped lawmakers would eventually be able to convince their colleagues and the government to consider the provisions even if they are in parts.

“Presidents never seek to give up their national security powers,” Murphy said. “So we understand that any legislation that transfers or changes the existing national security status quo will be a steep climb when it comes to getting a signature from the president.”

The Senators argued, however, that their bill represented a growing discomfort some lawmakers were feeling about the executive’s ability to conduct military operations around the globe, both under the 2001 authorization to use military force and under Article II authorities of the President according to the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of defending the country.

“I believe President Biden made a courageous and very difficult decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and thus end the longest war in our country’s history,” said Sanders. “Let’s get it clear: when this permit was granted in 2001, I suspect that no member of Congress dreamed that American troops would still be in Afghanistan almost 20 years later with a vague and far-reaching permit.”

Lee cited President Barack Obama’s decision to come to Congress ahead of the airstrikes in Syria in 2013 as an example of how the process should work – where the reluctance of lawmakers to endorse the military action ended up doing so led the US not to attack Syria.

“I think that saved him a lot of headaches,” said Lee.

Bill would require Congressional approval for arms sales

When the Biden government launched air strikes along the Iraqi-Syrian border in June against Iran-backed militia groups that attacked US personnel and facilities in Iraq, President Joe Biden cited his constitutional Article II authorities to engage in self-defense to act.

Following that military action, Murphy raised concerns that the retaliatory strikes would be considered hostility under the War Powers Act, which he argued would require Congress to approve the military action, although critics of the law argue that it is unconstitutional.

Currently, under the War Powers Act, the government has 60 days to obtain Congressional approval. But to stop US military action, Congress must stop funding. The new proposal would cut the deadline to 20 days and automatically cut funding without congressional approval.

The law also addresses several disputes Congress had with the executive branch over warring powers.

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump vetoed three resolutions denying arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and overruled the vote to block the sales. In May lawmakers objected to arms sales to Israel amid increasing violence in the region, but had little time to try to force a vote to freeze the sales.

Rather than asking Congress to vote to block foreign arms sales approved by the State Department, the law requires Congress to vote to approve the sales if they include certain types of arms and exceed $ 14 million Dollar amount.

The bill would also test the president’s ability to declare national emergencies, which Trump related to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2019 in order to allocate billions of dollars to build a wall on the southern border.

The law would require Congress to approve a declaration of emergency and certain emergency powers, and would limit what the executive branch can take in response to a national emergency that has not been approved by Congress.

CNN’s Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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