Congress: Explicitly prohibit war in Venezuela without Congressional authorization

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The Constitution makes clear, and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 re-affirmed, that the President of the United States needs prior authorization from Congress before using military force if the U.S. has not been attacked.
 
Unfortunately, so far courts have been reluctant to enforce the Constitution’s prohibition on unauthorized war, viewing Constitutional war powers as a “political question” that needs to be addressed by Congress. That’s why U.S. participation in the Saudi war in Yemen has gone on for four years, even though it is clearly unconstitutional – because Congress hasn’t stopped it yet.
 
Now Trump is threatening to use military force in Venezuela without Congressional authorization. Rhode Island Democrat and Progressive Caucus vice-chair David Cicilline has introduced a bill that would stop Trump by explicitly prohibiting any expenditure for the use of military force in Venezuela that violates the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Cicilline’s bill currently has thirty-five co-sponsors. Cicilline’s bill is expected to be taken up soon by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
 
Cicilline’s bill is quite simple. Here is the key text:
 
(a) Funding Prohibition.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense or to any other Federal department or agency may be used to introduce the Armed Forces of the United States into hostilities with respect to Venezuela, except pursuant to—
 
(1) a declaration of war;
 
(2) a specific statutory authorization described in subsection (b); or
 
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or the Armed Forces.
 
The three criteria cited invoke Section 2c of the War Powers Resolution:
 
The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
 
Thus, the Cicilline bill amounts to this: the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution are good law, and they apply to Trump’s threats to use military force in Venezuela without Congressional authorization; if Trump carried out these threats, it would be an unconstitutional act.

This is a standard way that Congress enforces its war powers. It passes a law that basically says, "Hey, President ___, the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution  are good law, and in particular they apply to Country ___, the one you are currently threatening with military force that Congress has not authorized."  

Urge your Representative and Senators to co-sponsor and support Cicilline’s Venezuela war powers bill by signing our petition.



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