Nixon Versus the Congress: The War Powers Resolution, 1973
PHILIP J. BRIGGS
"The congressional bombing cutoff, coupled with the limitation placed on the President by the War Powers Resolution in November 1973, set off a string of events that led to the Communist takeover in Cambodia and, on April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam."1 So stated Richard M. Nixon, thirty-seventh president of the United States, in what is arguably one of the strongest indictments ever leveled by a president against the Congress in the formulation of foreign policy.
The following case study will examine the context, issues, and political positions taken by leading members of the congressional and executive branches of government in the development and enactment of the War Powers Resolution, which placed restrictions on the president's ability to "make war." A final section will summarize and evaluate why passage of this act occurred despite the president's veto.
Beginning with the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia where the war power was briefly discussed on August 17, a determination was made empowering the Congress to "declare" war, with the president retaining the power to "make" war as recorded:
"To make war"
Mr. Pinkney opposed the vesting this power in the Legislature. Its proceedings were too slow. It wd. meet but once a year. The Hs. of Reps. would be too numerous for such