A nonpartisan push to restore Congress’ role – Daily Breeze


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For too long, Congress has ceded unreasonable amounts of power to the executive branch. Restoring the constitutional order should not be a partisan issue. In a welcomed development, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, have introduced legislation requiring the president to receive congressional approval in areas of military force, emergency powers and arms exports.

“The founders envisioned a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government on national security matters. But over time, Congress has acquiesced to the growing, often unchecked power of the executive to determine the outline of America’s footprint in the world,” said Murphy in a statement. “The bipartisan National Security Powers Act will make sure that there is a full, open and public debate on all major national security decisions, such as war making, arms sales and emergency declarations.”

This is how it should be.

Under the proposal, presidents would need to seek congressional authorization for such matters. If they do not, funding for such actions would be automatically cut off after a period of time.

The bill would rightly sunset existing authorizations for use of military force. The AUMFs of 2001 and 2002 in particular have long been overdue for repeal. Last month, the House voted to terminate the 2002 AUMF, so there is clearly some congressional interest in regaining Congress’ constitutional authority over war.

The 2001 AUMF was originally passed to grant the president the ability to order military actions in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, but it instead morphed into a blank check invoked by presidents ever since to justify conflicts and surveillance activities around the world.

The 2002 AUMF was passed to grant the president the ability to use military force against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but has since been used to rationalize any military action with even the most peripheral link to Iraq.

Both authorizations have long since exceeded their  originally intended purpose. Given what they authorize is the expenditure of American taxpayer money and American lives, the least Congress can do is play a more active role in  approving and regulating such efforts.

War is not the only area where Congress has ceded undue levels of power.

Lee, Murphy and Sanders’ proposal would also curtail the ability of presidents to declare emergencies with minimal oversight. Under their proposal, the scope of emergency powers would be limited and Congress would have to approve an emergency within 30 days.

Additionally, the proposal would curb the ability of the president to unilaterally impose tariffs.

These are all matters that wouldn’t require legislation if Congress didn’t find it politically convenient to leave challenging matters to the executive branch.

But it’s Congress’ job to debate difficult issues, vote and provide oversight accordingly.

Kudos to Sens. Lee, Murphy and Sanders for working to restore Congress’ rightful role in American governance.

Read More:A nonpartisan push to restore Congress’ role – Daily Breeze

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