Asha Rangappa @AshaRangappa_ Fmr FBI Special Agent, lawyer, faculty @JacksonYale. Tiger(ish) mom. @CNN analyst. Editor @just_security. Karaoke, golf, and Shakespeare aficionado. Views mine. Jan. 06, 2020 2 min read

THREAD. Yes. But it's also time to acknowledge that the War Powers Act is pretty much obsolete and also ill-equipped to deal with a Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs President. Here are a few examples:

2. Here is the text of the War Powers Act, passed in 1973 in the aftermath of Vietnam. The idea was to reassert Congress' role in warmaking, but also preserving the President's Art. II powers to act, e.g., defensively (a delicate balancing act)  https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/warpower.asp 

3. Let's start with the Consultation Clause (Sec. 3). The Act states that POTUS "in every possible instance shall consult with Congress...." OK. With whom? When? Does talking to your BFF senator on a golf course count?? Unclear. Might want to start with updating that.

4. NOTE: @timkaine and the late John McCain tried to amend this portion of the Act. I can't determine what became of that  https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/war-powers-the-constitution-and-bipartisanship-115263 

5. Next, the meat of the WPR rests on Sec. 4(a)(1), when members of the armed forces are introduced into hostilities. But what constitutes "hostilities" has been debated -- the Obama admin argued in 2011 that it only involves "boots on the ground" or serious risk to forces

6. This obviously has decreasing relevance in an age of air strikes and drone warfare, which allow for remotely controlled strikes  https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/us/politics/16powers.html 

7. Congress main "power" comes from Sec. 5, which imposes the "60-day clock" in the event of unilateral action by POTUS. If Congress doesn't authorize further action in that time (or extends the clock, or can't meet), POTUS must cease action.

8. Further, the 60-day clock is only triggered IF POTUS has introduced armed forces pursuant to Sec 4(a)(1) -- i.e., into "hostilities." So we are back to the circular argument which was used by the Obama admin to argue that the WPR didn't apply in the first place.

9. And even if it did apply: I defer to the vets reading this, but it seems like 60days of warfare is much different today than in 1973. You can do A LOT in that time, including escalating the situation to the point where it is infeasible -- politically or nat sec-wise -- to stop

10. Basically the WPR is the guy whose girlfriend is cheating on him and he says "I PUT MY FOOT DOWN!!" while she puts on her hottest club outfit and blows him a kiss as she walks out the door. END


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