Congressional control over Presidential military powers

I know that only Congress can declare war, but it seems that the constitution would still allow the President to attack Iraq regardless of what Congress wishes as long as it’s not “War” (whatever that means). Yes, I know Congress gave him the power, but my question presumes that they wouldn’t.

Could they simply pass a bill that said:

“No funds from the United States Treasury shall be used in furtherance of a military campaign against Iraq”

Effectively making it impossible for the President to launch an invasion?

Short answer: It takes Congress thirty days to pass a resolution to go to the bathroom. Sometimes we need faster action, and this is the basis premise behind the War Powers Act of 1973. This Act is not always used in this manner (must respond quickly), but it is there.

There is also the question of whether or not the War Powers Act is constitutional. I have no idea what the Supreme Court would say if it was challenged.

Not knowing everything about the differences in legislation, I don’t think a bill could do it easily. Congress would have to override a likely veto, which is rarely done, especially if the vote would be close to begin with. You might be able to do it with something else, like a resolution. As I said, IANAP (and thank God for it!)

** Blalron** Congress can do that. To avoid the possibility, Bush worked with Congress to get them to agree the US can take action.

Congress and the President are careful in this area because neither side wants a court to decide exactly who has what powers.

For short term action, once the military budget is approved, the President can work within it. All Congress can do is hit back on the next years budget.

Yes. Congress did exactly that in 1973 to force President Nixon to stop bombing Cambodia. In a less successful vein, Congress passed the “Boland Amendment” in 1984 which forbade the Reagan administration from using federal funds to arm or train the Nicaraguan “contras”. The Reagan administration defied the law, and used secret funds from arm sales to Iran to arm the contras anyway. This could have been grounds for impeachment, but the action was not deemed significant enough or controversial enough to warrant such a radical confrontation. Even so, it dominated the news for several months.

Right… so selling guns to Iran to fund a regime change that Congress forbade is A-OK, but lying about oral sex is an impeachable offense?!


Two words. Plausible deniability. North didn’t talk.