Specter: Bush not sole 'decision-maker'

Updated: 2007-01-31 09:02

Under the Constitution, lawmakers have the ability to declare war and fund military operations, while the president has control of military forces.

But presidents also can veto legislation and Bush likely has enough support in Congress on Iraq to withstand any veto override attempts.

Seeking input, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy , D-Vt., and Specter, asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for the White House's views on Congress' war powers.

Boxer and Feingold are in effect proposing putting conditions on troop funding and deployment in an effort to end the war in some way other than zeroing out the budget. But some lawmakers and scholars insist war management is the president's job.

"In an ongoing operation, you've got to defer to the commander in chief," said Sen. John Warner , R-Va., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. But the veteran senator and former Navy secretary said he understands the debate over Congress' ability to check the executive branch.

"Once Congress raises an army, it's his to command," said Robert Turner, a law professor at the University of Virginia who was to testify Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In recent decades, presidents have routinely bypassed Congress when deploying troops to fight. Not since World War II has Congress issued an official declaration of war, despite lengthy wars fought in Vietnam and Korea.

Congress does not have to approve military maneuvers.

John Yoo, who as a Justice Department lawyer helped write the 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion, called that document a political one designed only to bring Democrats on board and spread accountability for the conflict.

The resolution passed by a 296-133 vote in the then-GOP-run House and 77-23 in the Democratic-led Senate, but it was not considered a declaration of war.


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