While legislators try to leash a president by tinkering with a weapon, a sufficient leash - the Constitution - is being ignored. They are derelict in their sworn duty to uphold it. Regarding the most momentous thing government does, make war, the constitutional system of checks and balances is broken.
Congress can, however, put the Constitution's bridle back on the presidency. Congress can end unfettered executive warmaking by deciding to. That might not require, but would be facilitated by, enacting the Constitutional War Powers Resolution. Introduced last week by Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, it technically amends, but essentially would supplant, the existing War Powers Resolution, which has been a nullity ever since it was passed in 1973 over President Nixon's veto.
Jones' measure is designed to ensure that deciding to go to war is, as the Founders insisted it be, a “collective judgment." It would prohibit presidents from initiating military actions except to repel or retaliate for sudden attacks on America or U.S. troops abroad, or to protect and evacuate U.S. citizens abroad. It would provide for expedited judicial review to enforce compliance with the resolution, and permit the use of federal funds only for military actions taken in compliance with the resolution.
Congress Punts: Shuns Warmaking Role
You might remember that I've advocated Congress re-establish its role once or twice, but while this sort of thing is a popular notion on the progressive blogs, it's not a viewpoint that's been discussed much in the mainstream news.
So who is the wild-eyed radical hippy who advocates this? Why, George Will, of course. Welcome to the VLWC, George.
Of course, Will fails to mention the measure Sen. James Webb has introduced in the Senate, which while more narrow in scope still prohibits attacks on Iran except in self defense. I like the more general idea, though. It really is Congress's job to declare war, and they need to re-establish their role.
UPDATE: Corrected link to the Webb bill on Iran. It was pointing to Webb's amendment on troop deployments.