Our U.S. Senate will soon have the opportunity to debate on whether we should be involved in a war with Iran. That is fortunate, because Congress needs to accept its responsibility for authorizing military action. The Constitution states that Congress has the responsibility for declaring and funding war. Accepting this responsibility prevents the corruption of overly centralized power and provides the opportunity for public debate.

In an attempt to assume its responsibility, in 1973 Congress enacted the War Powers Act, designed to limit the president’s ability to conduct overseas military actions without Congressional debate.

It has been difficult to use the act to prevent the unauthorized use of military force, because some members of Congress do not want to risk the political consequences of making a wrong or unpopular decision. Although this reluctance is understandable, we ask those who serve in the military to risk their lives, and it would seem that our elected representatives should be willing to risk their reputations in order to fulfill their responsibility for using military force.

Sen. Tim Kaine is using the War Powers Act to ask Congress to take that responsibility. His bill, S.J. Res. 63, directs the president to remove United States armed forces from hostilities against Iran or any part of its government or military within 30 days unless there is explicit authorization for the use of military force.

Sen. Angus King is to be congratulated for co-sponsoring this bill. Hopefully, Sen. Susan Collins will vote for its enactment.

Joseph de Rivera


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