The recent hostilities in Libya between government forces of the late Muammar Qadhafi and insurgents have once again raised issues concerning whether a U.S. President can insert combat forces for more than 60 days without securing congressional approval. For more than 35 years, the War Powers Resolution has required that all Presidents meet the criteria for compliance including prior consultation with Congress, fulfillment of reporting requirements, and securing congressional authorization within 60 days of the introduction of forces.
The War Powers Resolution has been much maligned, both by President Richard Nixon at the time and by each succeeding President. In fact, every President acting under the resolution has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement on the President’s authority as Commander in Chief.
In brief, the War Powers Resolution states that the President’s authority as Commander in Chief to introduce military forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities may only be exercised pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authority, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States or its forces