A bipartisan panel of statesmen, scholars and military experts convened by UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs has issued a call to change the process by which the nation’s leaders address decisions about going to war.
The National War Powers Commission, which was co-chaired by former secretaries of state James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher, ended a year and a half of deliberations with a formal report in July recommending that the president and Congress replace the War Powers Resolution of 1973 with a new statute.
“What we aim to do with this statute is to create a process that will encourage the two branches to cooperate and consult in a way that is both practical and true to the spirit of the Constitution,” Baker said in a prepared statement.
The proposed law specifies that the president consult with Congress before deploying troops in a significant armed conflict, defines what constitutes those types of hostilities, recommends establishing a congressional committee for consultation, and prescribes a timeframe for Congress to act.
“In effect, the commission is proposing a good deal for both the executive and legislative branches,” says an editorial in U.S. News & World Report.
The commission met seven times during a 13-month period and interviewed more than 40 witnesses about the respective war powers of the president and Congress. A veritable “Who’s Who” of dignitaries, the panel even had a high-profile historical adviser—Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.