Amendment Proposal Term Paper

Total Length: 911 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 6

Page 1 of 3

War Powers Act of 1973 was an important piece of legislation during the Vietnam War. The intention, per the wording of the act itself, was "to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities in such situations" (War). The Act required that if armed forces were sent into a nation, Congress had to be informed within 48 hours. Additionally, armed forces could not remain within a nation for more than 60 days without a declaration of war.

Those in support of the law promised the American citizens that the Act would prevent "another Vietnam" and restore the intended balance of powers in the government (Rostow 1). During the Vietnam War, thousands of troops were sent in without an official declaration of war having been made and thus without the need for Congressional approval. Had Congress been able to voice opinion from the outset then the bloodshed would have been markedly less. Supporters of the resolution stated that a string of presidents had slowly but surely stolen powers related to war from Congress and the resolution would right a severe wrong.
The Constitution of the United States declares that it is Congress that has the power to declare war and not the Executive Branch (Carter 101). In his book The National Security Constitution, Harold Koh writes, "In foreign as well as domestic affairs, the Constitution requires that we be governed by separated institutions sharing foreign policy powers" (Koh 69).

Part II:

Those who opposed the War Powers Act of 1973 questioned whether the resolution was constitutional. The Constitution of the United States, they argue, "confers upon Congress only a narrow piece of war power" (Carter 101). Therefore, legislation which guarantees Congress additional powers is thereby in violation of the Constitution because it gives one body more power than another. They also argue that the "act unconstitutionally delegates legislative powers to authorize war and grants presidents dangerous blank checks to wage war" and that it "invades presidential powers to conduct foreign policy and to function" (Hall). Different groups argue over which group's authority is most impeded, but both sides argue that the Act gives one or the other undue power.

Another aspect that opponents point to when they discuss the War Powers Act is the potential consequences of the legislation. Rather than allow Congress to make a determination regarding whether or not entrance in war is what is best for the nation, the….....

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