Tomorrow night at 9 p.m. EST, President Bush will address the nation and announce an escalation of the war in Iraq by sending about 20,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq. Can Congress do anything about it?
Some members have claimed that anything other than symbolic action is unconstitutional. Legal scholars on both the left and the right say that’s false. History supports their case.
A new report from the Center for American Progress details how, over the last 35 years, Congress has passed bills, enacted into law, that capped the size of military deployments, prohibited funding for existing or prospective deployment, and placed limits and conditions on the timing and nature of deployments. Some examples:
December 1970. P.L. 91-652 — Supplemental Foreign Assistance Law. The Church-Cooper amendment prohibited the use of any funds for the introduction of U.S. troops to Cambodia or provide military advisors to Cambodian forces.
December 1974. P.L. 93-559 — Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. The Congress established a personnel ceiling of 4000 Americans in Vietnam within six months of enactment and 3000 Americans within one year.
June 1983. P.L. 98-43 — The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983. The Congress required the president to return to seek statutory authorization if he sought to expand the size of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.
June 1984. P.L. 98-525 — The Defense Authorization Act. The Congress capped the end strength level of United States forces assigned to permanent duty in European NATO countries at 324,400.
November 1993. P.L. 103-139. The Congress limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994, permitting expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.
Read the full report for more examples.