The Constitution couldn’t be clearer. If the president wants to go to war, he or she must get a declaration of war. But for the last 70 years, the constitution has been bypassed by presidents who want to go to war and by senators and congressmen who don’t want to take responsibility for those wars.
One result is that the United States now engaged in “forever wars,” open-ended conflicts that have never been authorized by representatives of the people. The United States is now fighting wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. The last two have never been approved by Congress. The first two were authorized by a vote taken 16 years go.
Law professors Michael Glennon and Charles Tiefer have a fix: a parliamentary maneuver that would force the president to get congressional approval for military operations.
The measure would amend the internal rules of the House to cause a point of order to lie against any measure that makes available appropriated funds to carry out any military operation that the House has previously found, by simple resolution, requires authorization by Congress. Call the device a parliamentary war-powers lockbox: The House would in effect lock its doors to any measure that contains any money for a designated military operation.