A pair of US senators, a Democrat and a Republican [Tim Kaine, D, VA, and Todd Young, R, IN], have moved to strip President Biden of the power to unilaterally use military force.
The move comes after Biden used decades-old authorizations to “stretch his war powers” when he launched his first airstrike in Syria without congressional approval.
This would be a mistake, and Kaine illustrates a part of its nature.
Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary.
Not at all. Congress has sole authority to declare war, not to authorize “new military action,” and Congress has the sole power to fund continuing military action. The President has the sole responsibility, and authority, to respond to imminent threats to the United States, including with “new military action.”
Related to this, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D, CA) led a letter, cosigned by some 30 Representatives, to President Joe Biden, in which he said, in part,
While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so. The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of US nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.
This illustrates another aspect of the mistake. It’s too often necessary to decide and execute within those minutes; there’s too often no time for consultations—not with missiles only 20 minutes away from impacting on our cities and military installations, and with even less time to a high altitude detonation or series of detonations for a nuclear-originated EMP strike.
Which emphasizes another aspect of the need for prompt decision-making rather than accepting the delays of contacting legislative-mandated consultants and the dithering in which a committee of those consultants would engage. That is the need, for our nation’s security, to carry out a preemptive attack. Today’s technology, and especially tomorrow’s, compress reaction time to the point that often it’s non-existent, and proaction—preemption—is necessary for national survival.
It would be a serious degradation to our national security to degrade a President’s war powers capacity. And, given Article II of our Constitution, such an effort easily could become unconstitutional.