War Powers Act of 1973
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Stemming directly from American involvement in the quagmire that was the Vietnam War, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 was designed to limit the authority of the President of the United States to some degree. This resolution focused specifically on the following:
- President's ability to commit American troops to an armed conflict of any nature without the prior approval of Congress.
- This resolution does not apply, however, in the case of a national emergency that was created as a result of an attack on the United States, its armed forces, or its territories and possessions.
- The War Powers Act essentially alters the clear description of powers that is provided in the United States Constitution, something that has caused many Presidents to challenge this resolution or just ignore it altogether.
The War Powers Act and Asia
In the 1970s, our nation was heavily embroiled in a conflict in Southeast Asia for many years; when looking at the conflict as a whole, however, it was clear that there was no declaration of war ever provided by Congress. Only Congress has this power, as described by the Constitution, yet they never did so in this case. Instead, it was the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that provided the President with what he believed to be the authority to use as much force as necessary in this region. At the time of this resolution's passing, President Nixon was president; he summarily vetoed the law, believing it to be unconstitutional. When the legislation was returned to Congress for alteration or approval, it was passed in both the Senate and the House with enough of a majority to ensure that Nixon's approval was not necessary. The measure became law as a result of Congressional power, leaving many presidents to challenge it in the years to come.