July 8, 2008

Christopher, Baker: Revise War Powers Bill

Former U.S. Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and James Baker announced a bipartisan plan Tuesday to revise the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

Writing in the New York Times, Christopher and Baker called the 1973 resolution ineffective at best and unconstitutional at worst. They said that presidents have simply ignored the resolution, which was intended to limit their power to send U.S. troops into battle without consulting Congress.

Baker and Christopher suggested an alternative that would require presidents to consult Congress before committing troops for any combat that would last beyond a week. There would be an exception for emergencies.

Congress would be required to act within 30 days of a presidential request.

Christopher, who served in President Bill Clinton's cabinet, and Baker, who served President George H.W. Bush, headed a study of the long-running tension between Congress and the president over war powers.

The War Powers Resolution was adopted as U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew to a close.