2.04.2007

Congress Reclaiming War Powers?

Philadelphia Inquirer Political Analyst Dick Polman asks: Will Congress reclaim its war-making powers? Given the lack of confidence in the president's handling of the Iraq War, Americans are increasingly demanded a greater congressional role. Below are excerpts.

It is only in the midst of a disastrous war that the members of Congress may finally summon the will to grow a spine.

Ever since President Harry Truman bypassed Capitol Hill in 1950, instead seeking United Nations approval for a police action in Korea, the war-powers balance crafted by the Founding Fathers has been a fiction. Their guiding document decrees that, while the president commands the military, the Congress (which gets top billing, in Article I) is empowered to declare war, control the money, and "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." Yet the people's elected representatives have been ceding their prerogatives to the White House for more than half a century.

Nevertheless, we are clearly witnessing a rare moment of congressional fortitude. A war costing $2 billion a week, with no end in sight, does tend to command the attention of the timid, especially at a time when a landslide majority of the electorate is signaling that it wants to see a few checks and balances.