Imbalance of Powers: Constitutional Interpretation and the Making of American Foreign Policy

By Gordon Silverstein | Go to book overview

7
The Legislative Response: Building Foreign Policy on the War Powers Model

The War Powers Resolution was a flawed model upon which Congress built other statutory efforts to reassert foreign policy power in a number of areas. This chapter will explore the results of extending and expanding the war powers model to those areas, including intelligence oversight, emergency powers, defense spending, arms control, foreign assistance, and foreign trade.

To say that legislators built flawed statutes based on the war powers model is not to say that Congress was and is without influence in foreign policy. But there is an important distinction to be made between statutory control and non-statutory influence, or in Neustadt's terms, between authority and influence. 1 When the Court is asked to intervene in foreign policy and separation of powers cases, formal, statutory language holds the greatest power while non-statutory, informal avenues of influence are the least persuasive. This tendency has solidified in the Rhenquist court and, as Chapter 8 will show, the Court has continued to raise the standard of statutory language that it requires before it restrain the executive in foreign policy.

It is a mistake to try and treat foreign policy as a single entity. Different policy areas generate different levels of interest within Congress and among the public at large. Similarly, legislative tools are more appropriate and useful in sonic areas than they are in others. The degree of influence Congress may have varies across these different areas. 2 Although foreign policy can be divided into any number of analytic categories, Ripley and Lindsay argue that Samuel Huntington's categories of crisis pol-

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