War Powers Resolution

War Powers Resolution

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548) is a federal law intended to check the President's power to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress. The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or in case of "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."

The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto.

The War Powers Resolution was disregarded by President Reagan in 1981 by sending military to El Salvador and later the Contras in Nicaragua, by President Clinton in 1999, during the bombing campaign in Kosovo, and by President Obama in 2011, when he did not seek congressional approval for the attack on Libyan forces, arguing that the Resolution did not apply to that action. All incidents have had congressional disapproval, but none have had any successful legal actions taken against the president for violations. All presidents since 1973 have declared their belief that the act is unconstitutional.

Read more about War Powers ResolutionHistory, Questions Regarding Constitutionality

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