Roll, Founding Fathers, roll over. The situation with Congress is grave.
You designed three branches of government, each to check the others’ power. The first branch, and the most essential, is Congress. It not only controls the purse strings, but also the power to declare war.
But today’s Congress cannot even muster the courage to regulate the use of military force through legislation such as the War Powers Act or by passing an AUMF — an Authorization for the Use of Military Force.*
Yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd raised the issue of whether a new AUMF was necessary after the attack on Syria, especially for any further action. And would Congress dare to debate a new AUMF?
“I don’t think anybody wants a vote on this,” remarked Danielle Pletka, a defense and foreign policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute. She pointed out that any action would put Congress in line for blame should problems arise. “Look, the problem for Congress is . . . There’s no percentage for them.”
“If Congress doesn’t exert its authority here,” Todd offered, “then they’re ceding it.”
“Yes,” agreed National Review Editor Rich Lowry. “This is something the founders never counted on, that you’d have one branch of government that didn’t want to protect its prerogatives because too much accountability would be involved.”
Must the very foundation of our Republic always take a backseat to the personal political interests of professional politicians? Career congressmen disdain leadership, preferring to lead the cheers when things go well and criticize when they don’t.
Another important reason for term limits.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
*The AUMF passed after 9/11 gave the president authority to go after Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It has become a catch-all authorization due to congressional fear of being held accountable for authorizing — or not — any new use of military force. Instead, Congress has simply pretended that President Obama’s regime-change military intervention in Libya and the military actions against the Islamic State fit under the post-9/11 AUMF.