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January 09, 2020

King Backs War Powers Resolution Seeking to Restore Congress’s Constitutional Role in Military Actions

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support and cosponsorship of a war powers resolution that would force a debate and vote in Congress before the United States initiates a war with Iran. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

“For decades, Congress has ceded its war powers to presidents of both parties, and in doing so, we’ve abdicated Congress’s constitutionally-designated responsibility to make these decisions on behalf of the American people,” said Senator King. “This is a bipartisan statement that Congress must reassert its historic and constitutional role in authorizing and declaring war, while still allowing us to defend American personnel against Iranian threats.”

War powers resolutions are privileged, meaning that the Senate will be forced to vote on the legislation. The resolution underscores that Congress has the sole power to declare war, as laid out in the Constitution. The resolution requires that any hostilities with Iran must be explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force; it does not prevent the United States from defending itself from imminent Iranian attacks. The resolution will force a public debate and vote in Congress as intended by the framers of the Constitution to determine whether United States forces should be engaged in these hostilities.

Senator King has consistently expressed concern about the erosion of Congress’s war powers. In January 2014, Senator King joined Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to introduce the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014, legislation that would strengthen the consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action.

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