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War Powers Resolution (1973)

1973 November 7
Document

The War Powers Resolution, Pub. L. No. 93-148, 87 Stat. 555 (November 7, 1973). It is codified in Title 50, Chapter 33, Sections 1541-48 of the United States Code. Available at “50 U.S. Code Chapter 33 - War Powers Resolution.” House Library for the House of Representatives. http://library.clerk.house.gov/reference-files/PPL_93_148_War_Powers.pdf

The War Powers Resolution of 1973, now known as the War Powers Act, was Congress’s attempt to reinsert itself into wartime decision making as granted to it by the Constitution. How does this source attempt to reverse some ways that executive privilege was exercised in the past?

In the 1950s, President Harry Truman sent troops to Korea without congressional approval as part of a United Nations “police action.” This action and experiences of the long, drawn-out Vietnam War under presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon led Congress to issue a check on presidential authority during wartime. The War Powers Resolution of 1973, now known as the War Powers Act, was Congress’s attempt to reinsert itself into wartime decision making as granted to it by the Constitution.

PUBLIC LAW 93-148-NOV. 7, 1973
(a) It is the purpose of this chapter to ... insure that ... both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, ...
(c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory [laws] authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.

(b) Termination of use of United States Armed Forces; exceptions; extension period.
Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted … the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces … unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.