BOSTON (CBS) - The idea almost sounds quaint. An American president asking Congress to approve an act of war.
Hasn’t happened very often in this country over the past half century. World War II was the last time we formally declared war. Yet our military has been quite busy since then.
Here’s the deal.
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. And it also gives the president power to repel attacks against the country as Commander-in-Chief.
This is where things get complicated.
Yes the President can send the military into battle all on his own. But after 60 days, Congress must approve of that use of force under the War Powers Resolution.
And now more than 30 members of the U.S. House, including Republicans and Democrats, have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to recall Congress to debate any plans to attack Syria.
He would not be the first president to ignore that request.
Far from it.
The War Powers Resolution – passed after Vietnam – has been repeatedly violated by presidents, most recently by President Obama in Libya. It has also been overlooked by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.
But in light of such little public support for a strike on Syria, it may be in this president’s best interest to at least pretend to care what Congress thinks about this.
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