Congress Yawns Over Warmaking Power

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Under the War Powers Act, the president can commit troops to a military operation for 60 days before getting congressional approval. Next week, that 60 days is up for the war in Libya. So what happens then?

Doug Mataconis rounds up some reporting on this, and the answer is…..nothing. Apparently no one in Congress really cares, and President Obama, like every president before him, doesn’t recognize the WPA as a legitimate check on his commander-in-chief powers anyway.

Whatever else you can say about Bush’s wars, he did get Congress’s approval for them. Obama isn’t even bothering with that much. Still, it’s hard to come down on him too hard over this. It’s up to Congress to defend its authority in the warmaking arena, and they’re tacitly agreeing that Obama’s actions have been just peachy. If both branches agree on this, then I guess that’s that. The president can deploy troops any time and in any way he wants. I just hope congressional Democrats don’t start whining about this sometime in the future when a Republican president does the same thing.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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