March 05, 2020

Clawing Back Constitutional War Powers

By Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk

Washington is in the early innings of what has the potential to become the most significant congressional claw-back of constitutional war powers authority since Vietnam. Following the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Qods Force leader Qassim Suleimani on January 3, the Republican-led Senate recently voted 55-45 last month to block funding for the use of military force against Tehran, absent explicit approval by Capitol Hill. While President Trump has vowed to veto the legislation—a version of which separately passed the House of Representatives earlier in February—this flare-up is likely a preview of bigger battles to come, regardless of who wins the November election.

The attempt by Congress to restrict the White House’s freedom of maneuver on Iran has been characterized as a backlash against its shifting justifications for the Suleimani drone strike or as a proxy for wider discontent with the Trump Administration’s unorthodox foreign policy. Such explanations, however, fail to situate the vote within its proper historical context.

Read the full article in The American Interest.

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