August 1, 2008  

Revised war powers

TO JAMES BAKER AND WARREN CHRISTOPHER, co-chairs of the National War Powers Commission report, for a practical, fair and balanced proposal that deserves high-priority consideration by the next president and Congress. The report’s proposal for a War Powers Consultation Act of 2009 offers a more level-headed and clearly defined set of rules governing the war powers of the president and Congress. The most important recommendations would require the president to consult with Congress before declaring or authorizing significant combat operations. Congress would have 30 days to approve or disapprove the military action; inaction could not be construed as disapproval. If approved, there would be no question that the president and Congress had endorsed going to war, and the two sides would be duty-bound to maintain regular dialogue through a joint congressional consultation committee for the war’s duration.