Does Congress Need to Authorize U.S. Military Action Overseas?

Policy Forum
October 7, 1998 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium

Featuring Rep. David E. Skaggs (D-Colorado); with comments by Louis Fisher, Congressional Research Service; Robert F. Turner, University of Virginia Law School; and Stanley Kober, Cato Institute.

This Cato Policy forum featured Rep. David E. Skaggs (D-Colorado), with comments by Louis Fisher, Congressional Research Service; Robert F. Turner, University of Virginia Law School; and Stanley Kober, Cato Institute. Until the Korean conflict in 1950, U.S. presidents regularly secured congressional support before taking offensive military action. Since then, presidents have often used the precedent of the Korean War to avoid obtaining congressional approval for U.S. military operations overseas. President Bush caused controversy by arguing that he had the authority to go to war with Iraq without congressional approval, which he later sought and received. President Clinton has not requested legislative approval for military actions in Iraq, Haiti, or Bosnia. In 1998, Representative Skaggs authored a legislative provision that would block the use of funds to conduct offensive military action unless Congress approved the operation. Does the war powers clause of the Constitution require Congress to authorize offensive military action? Representative Skaggs and the panel discuss this issue.