U.S. lawmakers aim to reclaim the president’s war powers and arms sales authority

0

A group of lawmakers who waged a years-long campaign to harness presidential war powers are now going on the offensive, unveiling a bill that would radically reshape the role of Congress in authorizing war, national emergencies and of US arms sales around the world.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, Mike Lee, a Republican, and Bernie Sanders, an Independent, would drastically reduce the presidential ability to launch military operations abroad without Congressional consent and give the legislative power many more votes out of billions. dollars in arms sales to foreign countries.

A group of lawmakers who waged a years-long campaign to harness presidential war powers are now going on the offensive, unveiling a bill that would radically reshape the role of Congress in authorizing war, national emergencies and of US arms sales around the world.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, Mike Lee, a Republican, and Bernie Sanders, an Independent, would drastically reduce the presidential ability to launch military operations abroad without Congressional consent and give the legislative power many more votes out of billions. dollars in arms sales to foreign countries.

The bill seeks to update and replace a Vietnam War era law, the War Powers Resolution, aimed at verifying the president’s ability to wage war abroad without the prior approval of Congress. It is introduced as President Joe Biden strives to pull the United States out of two decades of costly conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East, amid a heated debate in Washington over how the Constitution should be interpreted in a time of complex and low-intensity warfare. .

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern is expected to introduce complementary legislation to the House in the coming weeks.

The sponsors of the bill argue that over the decades the executive branch has consolidated too much power over foreign policy decisions while the legislative branch has allowed its own authorities to wither away. They see the legislation as a much needed change of course. The bill would require the president to end military actions after 20 days if not authorized by Congress (the president has a 60-day “termination clock” under current law ) and cut funding for military actions if the president does not get the necessary green. light of Congress.

It also aims to assert the role of Congress in U.S. arms sales abroad, a key aspect of U.S. military and diplomatic policy with its allies and partners around the world. Under current law, arms sales to foreign countries are automatically approved unless the House and Senate pass anti-veto resolutions to block the sales. Under the new law, Congress must actively approve major foreign military or direct commercial sales for most ammunition and military equipment valued at over $ 14 million.

Biden has signaled his support for some congressional efforts to verify authorities of presidents’ war power, but it is not yet clear whether the Biden administration supports this bill, which goes much further than past legislative efforts. to stop specific arms sales or authorizations to use military force on a case. -case by case. A Senate Democratic aide said they briefed the Biden administration on the legislation but have yet to have in-depth conversations with administration officials on the bill.

Legally, the bill also updates the war powers resolution by defining terms never defined in the original 1973 version – including the term “hostilities” – with the aim of verifying the capacity of warfare. executive to legally justify the use of military forces without the consent of Congress. . It also cancels all existing authorizations to use military force and increases lawmakers’ control over “national emergencies” that the president can invoke to legally support further military strikes and arms sales.

There are currently 39 national emergencies in place, including those allowing for sanctions or export controls that have been in place since the 1990s, and in one case even the late 1970s. An example of a national emergency still in the news: a 2001 national emergency declared by President George W. Bush to authorize sanctions against Albanian insurgents operating in North Macedonia.

Murphy said in a statement that “over time Congress has acquiesced in the growing and often uncontrolled power of the executive to determine the contours of America’s footprint in the world.”

“The presidents of both parties have usurped the prerogative of Congress to determine if, when and how we go to war,” Lee said in a statement. “In areas where the Constitution grants wide powers to Congress, Congress is ignored. The National Security Powers Act will change that and put those checks and balances back on our government. “

However, not all Republican lawmakers are on board. Some have expressed doubts about efforts to revoke the 9/11-era president’s permissions to use military force, arguing that it hinders a president’s ability to respond to attacks on the U.S. military by actors non-state like Iranian militias and terrorist groups in the Middle East. Is.

“We will have a mixed debate within the party on some of these issues,” said a Republican Senate adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I expect this to generate a lot of debate, and I hope we can see the same curiosity and support among some of the colleagues on our side of the aisle.”

Past efforts to restrict the president’s permission to use military force abroad, including votes to end the U.S. military’s involvement in the Yemen conflict, were passed with only a minority Republican support from the Senate – and under former President Donald Trump, those bills have hit a wall. in the office of the president with a right of veto.

Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also waged fierce political battles with Capitol Hill over arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both countries are heavily involved in the war in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a conflict marked by indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets that has helped fuel a massive humanitarian crisis.

Pompeo approved multibillion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2019, citing emergency national security authorities citing unspecified threats from Iran to override congressional opposition. The move infuriated some lawmakers, who demanded an investigation of the State Department’s internal watchdog. The watchdog concluded that Pompeo used proper procedures to speed up arms sales, but said he failed to take into account the humanitarian toll that arms sales would have on the war in Yemen. The watchdog’s investigation was narrow in scope and did not assess the merits of Pompeo’s emergency authority.

After the Trump era, lawmakers believe they have more support for Biden in their war powers campaign, although some have expressed doubts about Biden’s decision to launch strikes against Iranian proxy militias. last month without the consent of Congress.

They also reject criticism that Congress is trying to take too much foreign policy power away from the executive. “We’re not trying to stray too far from the executive, because frankly some of those powers were never meant to belong to the executive,” the Republican Senate aide said. “If anything, this is a cover, not a ripping off [war] powers.”

Correction, June 20, 2021: This article has been corrected to clarify that there are 39 national emergencies currently in place. A previous version of this article misrepresented this figure.


Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.