Despite Constitution, Sanders fears Congress having war powers

These are not obscure American concepts. At issue are bedrock principles of our system of government.
Image: Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.Carolyn Kaster / AP
By Steve Benen

The U.S. House is poised to vote this afternoon on a war powers resolution intended to limit the Trump administration's military actions against Iran. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained this morning why she thinks the effort is a mistake.

"You know, I can't think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy.... I think the last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress' hands and take them away from the president. [...]

"[T]he last thing I want to do is see them take power away from President Trump and put it into their own hands. I don't think anything could be worse for America than that."

I don't mean to sound picky, but no one's talking about "pushing" war powers "into Congress' hands." That would be unnecessary, since those powers are already in Congress' hands.

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution isn't exactly subtle on this point. The document explicitly gives the legislative branch the power "to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." The Constitution goes on to authorize Congress to "raise and support armies, "provide and maintain a navy," and "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces."

These are not obscure American concepts. At issue are bedrock principles of our system of government.

In fact, a friend of mine wrote a book a few years ago about "the consequences of American decision-making about war drifting away from Congress (and the Constitution) and toward the White House instead."

I'm suddenly tempted to send Sarah Huckabee Sanders a copy.

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