Today American troops are spread out over the world. We have combat troops in 8 countries, and personnel engaged in counter-terrorism missions in 79 countries.
But strangely, there has been almost no public debate about the wisdom of this massive military commitment.
That’s because over the years, Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently sent brave Americans to war through creative interpretations and expansions of the president’s war powers authorities. We’ve also seen administrations dramatically increase the sale of deadly weapons to countries with questionable human rights records, and declare “national emergencies” for political benefit.
Today, I introduced a bipartisan bill with Senators Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee to fix this, but we need you to help us get more of our colleagues on board.
Will you add your name to become a citizen co-sponsor of the National Security Powers Act? This bill would reassert Congress as a co-equal branch of government with the executive branch when it comes to national security decision making.
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You may ask why Congress allowed this expansion of the executive branch’s warmaking powers despite a constitutional mandate that only the legislative branch declare war. And the truth is that, at least in part, a lot of members of Congress didn’t want to take tough votes on whether or not to go to war.
Too often in modern history, our country has tended toward rash decisions about military engagement. It is often lonely to oppose military action, and many members of Congress fear attack ads calling them soft.
But we have to recognize that it is our duty to be a partner to the executive branch in major national security decisions — like when we go to war, who we sell weapons to, and what actually constitutes a “national emergency.” That is the only way we can stop this cycle of endless wars and get Congress back to the table on national security.
So our bill does three things:
It limits the president’s unilateral power to go to war. Yes, the commander-in-chief must be able to defend our nation from a sudden attack, but there can be no more endless wars from blank-check authorizations or creative definitions of “hostilities.”
It gives Congress more oversight over the billions of dollars in American weapons sales. It requires members to vote on whether high-risk, often counterproductive, arms sales to other countries can proceed. Why should we be selling weapons to the Saudis if they’re using them to kill civilians in Yemen?
It reels in presidents’ abuses of “emergency powers” to circumvent Congress. Our country is in the midst of no less than 39 ongoing national “emergencies,” some of which began decades ago. Many are legitimate, like the public health emergency to defeat COVID. But ultimately, Congress needs to make that determination.
At the end of the day, we will get better national security outcomes if Congress reasserts its role in these matters. It is also the best way to give the American people a voice in the matter. Your elected representatives’ job is to listen and get your input, and I’m asking you to make your voice heard today:
Add your name: Become a citizen co-sponsor of the National Security Powers Act. This bill can help break the cycle of endless wars, stop counterproductive arms sales, and end the political abuses of “emergency powers.”
Thank you in advance for adding your name. If we care about checks and balances — a foundational principle of our democracy, then we need Congress to reassert itself as a co-equal branch of government in national security matters.
Every best wish,
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