War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War

By Donald L. Westerfield | Go to book overview

Senator Biden's resolution was substantially more restrictive of presidential prerogatives than Senate Concurrent Resolution 147 in many respects, but the most significant of these was the language under Section 5(b)(1)(A-C) stating, 35

(b) Further Authorization.--(1) Before initiating a use of force against Iraq beyond those uses authorized by subsection (a), the President shall--(A) consult and seek the advice of the Combined Congressional Leadership Group created pursuant to section 7 of this Resolution; (B) set forth to Congress and the American people his explanation of the imperatives mandating such use of force in the absence of a United Nations directive; and (C) seek a declaration of war or other statutory authorization.

This resolution clearly would have set the stage for a congressional-presidential confrontation. The Senate chose to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 147 with the language as presented in Exhibit 8.10 above, which did not include the restrictive language that Senator Biden sought to impose on the process. We will be able to assess the implementation of that resolution coupled with the results of subsequent United Nations resolutions when we examine the decision to commit U.S. forces to action in the following chapter. Additionally, we continue to examine the consultation process between the president and Congress as the hostilities intensify between Iraq and the coalition forces. United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 and the ensuing Desert Storm operation sharply increased the urgency and volume of consultation among the president as commander in chief, the members of the armed services committees in Congress, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all foreign heads of state involved in the coalition force activity.

In reviewing the events subsequent to Desert Shield in the operation called Desert Storm, it would be instructive to keep the following questions in mind with regard to the charge by members of Congress that the president did not consult with Congress during important phases of the conflict. We might ask, "Did the president satisfy all moral and legal obligations of reporting and consultation with Congress under the War Powers Resolution?" "Was there evidence that the president should have sought any further 'advice and consent' prior to any escalation of armed force activity?"


NOTES
1.
George Bush, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George Bush, 2 vols. ( Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992). There are a number of short statements about the Gulf War that add to a composite of

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