Bipartisan bill takes a bite out of runaway executive war powers

Source: Responsible Statecraft
by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

“[T]he Obama administration’s lawyers claimed to respect the War Powers Act while redefining hostilities in such a way that it supposedly excluded the ongoing air war against the Libyan government. The Obama administration position at the time was that U.S. forces couldn’t really be engaged in hostilities if the other side couldn’t shoot at them, and for that reason they didn’t need Congressional authorization. The same strained denial of involvement in hostilities came up again under both Obama and Trump during the Yemen debate …. The new legislation seeks to clarify matters by setting a definition for hostilities that will cover these and other scenarios in which U.S. forces are clearly involved in a foreign conflict, and it would give the measure teeth by including an automatic funding cutoff if the president failed to meet its requirements.” (07/21/21)