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Panel urges new law on government war powers

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Susan Cornwell
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The president should be forced by law to consult Congress before going to war, a bipartisan panel including several prominent former U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The commission led by former Secretaries of State James Baker, a Republican, and Warren Christopher, a Democrat, aimed to clarify the cloudy division between the White House and the U.S. Congress over the power to conduct war. 

The panel proposed a new law — the “War Powers Consultation Act” — that would require the president to consult with Congress before deploying U.S. troops into “significant armed conflict,” defined as combat operations lasting, or expected to last, more than a week.

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Disputes over the unpopular Iraq war have revived constitutional arguments about the limits of congressional and presidential war powers. Under the Constitution, Congress declares war and controls funding, but the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

President George W. Bush got congressional authorization in 2002 for the Iraq war. It was unclear whether the law proposed on Tuesday would have changed that outcome.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 2:52 pm

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