Yemen and the War Powers Act
By ARN MENCONI
There are two things you never let your children see. One is sausage being made and the other is policy. The House & Senate War Powers Resolutions were complicated as hell so most journalists and politicians are not able to explain half of it.
For the wonkiest of wonks here is some information about the two separate Resolutions invoking the War Power Act to end the U.S. support to the Saudi-lead war reported in the news.
What’s driving this nearly four-year-old war to finally be debated to the actually get votes is the horrific human tolls it’s taking. Everyone by now should have heard that the United Nations is calling the war in Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history.
New estimates show more than 60,000 people have been killed in the Yemen war in past 2 years according to the UK-based independent research group Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). Sen. Bernie Sanders has been repeating over and over that 85,000 children have died of starvation.
“Some 1.8 million Yemeni children are malnourished, making them more vulnerable to disease, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with 400,000 whose lives are at risk from severe acute malnutrition,” reported Reuters in October.
The War Powers Act (also known as the War Powers Resolution) was passed forty-five years ago to reassert Congressional authority to go to war as per Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, stating Congress alone has the authority to determine whether the United States shall use offensive military force. In 1973, it passed overriding a veto by President Nixon giving us some insight into the growing Imperial Presidency we saw with George W. Bush in the Afghan and Iraq Wars.
The U.S. Congress hasn’t adhered to the Constitution’s requirement since 1942. Truman ignored it taking the U.S. into war with North Korea, Congress never declared war in Vietnam. President Johnson used the Tonkin Resolutions to use military force. Each President from Johnson to Trump have worked most often with Authorization of the Use of Military Force commonly known at AUMFs.
What’s so unique and powerful about the War Powers Act is it’s one of the few authorities that given to any individual member of Congress what called “privilege status” to invoked, be heard and voted on as long the Bill is approved by the Parliamentarian and waits 15 days. It doesn’t have to go through a Committee to go straight to the Floor for a vote.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author.