Gibson bill aims to amend War Powers Resolution

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives late last week aims to fundamentally alter the president's ability to declare war.

The legislation was introduced on Friday by Republican Chris Gibson, the former Army colonel who represents New York's 20th Congressional District.

Gibson says the War Powers Reform Act would "strike a new balance between the legislative and executive branch" when the U.S. is considering taking military action.

The War Powers Resolution was enacted in 1973 and requires the president to seek Congressional approval in order to engage America's military in hostile actions.

Gibson notes, however, that since the passage of the War Powers Resolution, presidents from both major political parties have side-stepped its provisions. He adds that the American people should be consulted before the president opts to use military force in a given situation.

"While the president has constitutional authority to take action to defend our cherished way of life, the Congress was empowered to decide when we would go to war," Gibson said.

But that critical balance between Congress and the president was been out-of-whack, Gibson says, with the military operation in Libya being the most recent example.

"It's time for Congress to reassert its role and constitutional responsibility on matters regarding the use of force, which this Act does by clearly outlining when the president can commit U.S. service members into hostile circumstances and when Congress must first give authorization," he said.

Gibson says that under his legislation, if the threshold for the president's authority to declare war is not met, then no federal funds can be obligated or expended.

His legislation amends the War Powers Resolution to clarify the president's authority to use military force.

The bill allows for certain exceptions, specifically when the U.S. is being attacked or is in imminent danger.

In all other situations, the president must go to Congress first, Gibson says.

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