Teaching with Online Primary Sources: Documents from the National Archives: The Return of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Shell Game: President Obama, Syria, and the War Powers Resolution of 1973

By Rulli, Daniel F. | Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching with Online Primary Sources: Documents from the National Archives: The Return of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Shell Game: President Obama, Syria, and the War Powers Resolution of 1973


Rulli, Daniel F., Teaching History: A Journal of Methods


Background and Context

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and other so-called "Presidential Wars," the Congress in 1973 passed the Joint resolution concerning the war powers of Congress and the President, commonly known as the War Powers Act. The intent of Congress, by the title and testimony, was to define and restrict the war powers of the President and to reassert and explain the war powers of Congress.

This joint resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 3, 1973, by Representative Clement J. Zablocki, a Democrat from Wisconsin. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 244 to 170 on July 18 and the Senate by a vote of 75 to 20 on July 20. The resolution was reported out of a joint conference committee on October 4 and again passed the House by a vote of 238 to 123 and the Senate by a vote of 75 to 20 on October 12. President Nixon vetoed the resolution on October 24, but the House, on a 284 to 135 vote, and the Senate, on a 75 to 18 vote, overrode the veto. The resolution became law on November 7, 1973, completed from start to finish in approximately six months.

The War Powers Act has several distinct aspects regarding war powers. Initially it explains the intent and purpose of Congress. It then imposes on the President certain requirements for consulting with the Congress and the timing of certain reporting procedures. The resolution also spells out the consequences of presidential failure to meet these requirements and outlines and authorizes congressional authority and actions in those cases. Finally, the resolution makes clear the definition of the terms within the resolution and asserts that any judicial challenge of any part of the resolution only applies to that part and not the whole resolution.

While the delegation of war powers to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution appears straightforward, a number of issues and questions have arisen over the years concerning the constitutionality of the War Powers Act. The U.S. Constitution addresses war powers by dividing the powers between the Congress and the President. Article I, Section 8, gives Congress the power to declare war, raise and army and navy, and, in the elastic "necessary and proper" clause, the power to do whatever else is needed to carry out those powers. Article II, Section 2, designates the President "commander-in-chief of the army and navy and also of the "militia of the several states" when they are called into duty.

The discussion and argument, legal and otherwise, have revolved around a variety of questions. Is the power of Congress to declare war the same as the power to wage war? Does presidential authority as commander-in-chief also extend to waging war? Does the President have the power to wage war in expedient and emergency situations without congressional declaration or consent? Does congressional funding of a presidential military action constitute consent by the Congress to continue that action?

Since the passage of the War Powers Act in 1973, presidents have consistently held that it is an unconstitutional limitation of presidential war powers. Presidents have, nonetheless, submitted more than 120 reports to Congress concerning military action that complied with the War Powers Resolution. Some examples are the Mayaguez incident in 1975 by President Ford, President Reagan's use of troops in El Salvador and Lebanon between 1981 and 1983, President George H.W. Bush's Gulf war in Kuwait between 1990 and 1991, President Clinton's bombing of Kosovo between 1993 and 1999, President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2001, and President Obama's military actions in Libya in 2011.

Recently, President Obama asked Congress to approve air strikes in Syria to destroy chemical weapons the Syrian government has allegedly used against its citizens in the current civil war. This action was based on American intelligence and largely confirmed by United Nations inspectors. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Teaching with Online Primary Sources: Documents from the National Archives: The Return of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Shell Game: President Obama, Syria, and the War Powers Resolution of 1973
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.