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War Powers Resolution

The War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148) limits the power of the President of the United States to wage war without the approval of the Congress. The Resolution is sometimes referred to as the War Powers Act, but that is an older law intended to define limits on trade with enemies during wartime.

The Senate and the House of Representatives achieved the 2/3 majority required to pass this joint resolution over President Nixon's veto on November 7, 1973.

Portions of the War Powers Resolution require the President to consult with Congress prior to the start of any hostilities as well as regularly until U.S. armed forces are no longer engaged in hostilities (Sec. 3); and to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities if Congress has not declared war within 60 days (Sec. 5(b)).

Every president to date has declared the War Powers Resolution to be unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court has stricken down the 'legislative veto' embodied in Section 5(c) of the Resolution in INS v. Chadha (1983). However, in every instance since the act was passed, the President has requested and received authorization for the use of force consistent with the provisions of the resolution.

The act was intended to exercise congressional power to declare war under Article One, and the intended purpose of the act was to serve as a check on the power of the President to commit the United States to military action. Many constitutional scholars have questioned the usefulness of the resolution, pointing out that Congress has tended to defer to the Executive when conducting war.

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