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Rep. Peter DeFazio Urges Congress to Strengthen War Powers Authority

Jan 9, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today voted in favor of H.Con.Res. 83, legislation that directs President Trump to end the use of American forces in hostilities against Iran unless he receives authority from Congress. DeFazio also spoke on the House Floor to urge Congress to reassert its constitutional war powers authority.

“President Trump took us to the brink of all-out war last week when he recklessly and impulsively ordered the killing of Qassem Suleimani,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “Article I of the Constitution grants Congress, and only Congress, the authority to declare war. If the president decides to commit American troops to hostilities, he must formally notify Congress of the scope, objective, and exit strategy—and not through Twitter. I’ve criticized presidents of both parties—including Obama, Clinton, both Bushes, and Reagan—for violating the war powers our Constitution grants to Congress. It is beyond time for Congress to reassert its war powers authority and provide a check on the Executive Branch.”

Even though the U.S. Constitution grants Congress, not the Executive Branch, the power to declare war, the Executive Branch has largely ignored the Constitution and has repeatedly and unilaterally committed U.S. forces to armed conflict over the past five decades. Despite Congress’s attempt to rein in this executive overreach with the War Powers Resolution of 1973, this legislation has failed to effectively curb this unconstitutional behavior.

Rep. DeFazio has repeatedly introduced legislation, the War Powers Amendments, that would strengthen the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and clarify under the Constitution that the president must seek congressional authorization before sending U.S. troops into hostilities. The legislation includes a sunset clause to ensure that the U.S. is not mired in endless conflicts without a clear exit strategy.

DeFazio’s legislation provides the president an exception in the case of an immediate threat to the United States, its troops, or its citizens overseas. In addition, it would give any member of Congress the right to sue the Executive Branch if it does not comply with the bill’s provisions.

To watch Rep. DeFazio’s floor speeches on War Powers, click here and here.