As Wars Wind Down, Congress Revisits Presidential Powers

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Many Republicans – and some Democrats – are likely to resist.

“We want to keep the 2001 one,” said Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee. If the approval from 2001 is retained, says Inhofe, “then the approval from 2002 would be dispensable.”

Unlike declarations of major conflict like World War II, permits for the use of force are usually limited to a specific mission or region such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

By repealing the 2002 approval and stimulating debate on the 2001 measure, lawmakers and their supporters hope that Congress will gain new opportunities to approve commitments as they arise.

In turn, they believe that presidents will be more politically sensitive to using their powers to carry out military actions without the express consent of Congress. For example, Mr Kaine said that Mr Biden’s recent air strikes in Syria, which he ordered without the approval of Congress, “show that the executive branch, regardless of the party, will continue to expand its war powers.”

In 2015, President Barack Obama more or less dared Congress to debate the use of military force abroad, but both parties opposed it for opposite reasons. The Republicans refused to give Obama authority because they disapproved of his foreign policy, and the Democrats still stood out from the 2002 vote that approved the war in Iraq.

But the time and the resident of the White House have shifted the floor. A broad group supports the House Bill introduced by California Democrat Barbara Lee, who was the only member of the House to vote against the 2002 authorization. She has been struggling to get rid of it ever since.

Efforts to overturn the 2002 permit were supported by the Conservative Heritage Foundation and Concerned Veterans for America, as well as VoteVets, a liberal nonprofit group that supports Democrats, and the American Legion, veterans advocate.