Today: Reforming presidential emergency and war powers
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Congress has delegated to the executive its authorities over war-making and national emergencies. For certain, Alexander Hamilton was correct that the executive can act with greater speed and unanimity in crises. The executive branch is more unified than the legislature, and its security agencies operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Yet, delegating execution is not synonymous with delegating all decision-making authority. And in recent decades, Congress has attempted to achieve a delicate balance.
The War Powers Resolution, for example, was an example of an effort to balance the need for executive expediency and the constitutional value of congressional control and public accountability. The National Emergencies Act was designed to improve congressional oversight of executive-declared emergencies.
Recently, Congress has begun to reexamine the strengths and limits of these authorities, among others. Over the last year, members of congress have also expressed frustration with their limits to curb the declaration of certain emergencies and arms sales. These frustrations have led to ideas to reform the National Emergencies Act and other authorities. The January strike against Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has led to a renewed debate of the War Powers Resolution and limits of Congress’s power “to declare war.”
The ARTICLE ONE Act (S. 764) is a bill that would take back significant legislative powers given to the executive branch by the National Emergencies Act of 1976. The bill is representative of a growing movement in Congress to reexamine the strengths and limits of authorities Congress has traditionally delegated to the Executive Branch.
This meeting of the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group will discuss the state of executive war and emergency powers, and the ongoing congressional reform efforts.
- Anthony Marcum, R Street Institute
- Liza Goitein, Director, Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program
- Liz Hempowicz- POGO’s Director of Public Policy
- Kristie De Pena- Vice President for Policy and Director of Immigration at the Niskanen Center