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War Powers Act

The War Powers Act was a powerful move on the part of Congress to limit the influence of the President of the United States. With its passing, the President is now required to notify Congress of any military incursions into other nations or territories unauthorized, and said incursion must cease after 60 days without Congressional approval to extend the campaign. The context for this decision was following the Vietnam War, during which President Nixon was discovered to have levied secret bombing campaigns against the nation of Cambodia. Nixon attempted to veto the bill, but it was passed with a 2/3 majority vote in both houses. I believe that the passing of the War Powers Act was not an overstep on the part of Congress for two primary reasons. The first of these reasons is the existence of the Necessary and Proper Clause within the Constitution, otherwise known as the Elastic Clause. This Clause gives Congress the ability to create laws based on necessity, and in the context of the time it was necessary for them to limit the war-waging potential of the president. The second reason is more arbitrary and less constitutionally based, but still important to mention nonetheless. This reason pertains to the United States' increasing role as a world power and a participant in armed conflicts on various continents. This has led the US to become more active militarily, which is something that is both good and bad for the health of the nation. Without the implementation of something like the War Powers Act, it is very likely that more abuses of the presidential power as they occurred under Nixon would repeat themselves in other theatres of war in future conflicts. This act, although not necessarily intended as such, served to limit the future power of the United States in fighting wars that it should not be getting involved in to begin with. The people are most often unable to stop a war through their outcries until after it has already begun, and this act allows the people more time to catch up and rally against decisions that it deems poor for the health of the nation.

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