President-elect Barack Obama huddled today with the two former secretaries of state who head a panel calling for giving Congress more say-so over military action.
The meeting was requested by the bipartisan National War Powers Commission, which issued a report in July recommending that the 1973 War Powers Resolution -- passed during Vietnam -- should be replaced by a new law that would, except for emergencies, require the president and congressional leaders to discuss the matter before going to war.
James A. Baker III, who served as the nation's top diplomat in Republican administrations, and Warren Christopher, who held the post in Democratic ones, wrote in an op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune that the resolution is "ineffective at best and unconstitutional at worst. No president has recognized its constitutionality, and Congress has never pressed the issue."
Instead, they say, a new law should require the president to consult with Congress before ordering a "significant armed conflict" - defined as combat operations that last or are expected to last more than a week. Then, unless Congress declared war "or otherwise expressly authorized a conflict," it would have to take an up or down vote within 30 days.
Obama has not endorsed the commission's report, but his Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, has called for revisiting the war powers issue.
"The president-elect underscored his commitment to working closely with Congress with bipartisan participation," Denis McDonough, senior foreign policy adviser, told the press pool after the hour-long meeting.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.