Lawmakers aim for blockbuster overhaul of war powers, arms sales

“Congress needs to reaffirm its role in national security decisions, especially those that affect our military personnel,” added Meijer. “The National Security Reforms and Accountability Act will put Congress back in the driver’s seat so we can fulfill our constitutional duty to the American people.”

The couple are joined by Democrats Barbara Lee from California, Peter DeFazio from Oregon, Joaquin Castro from Texas, Ted Lieu from California and Republican Nancy Mace from South Carolina.

The bill was viewed by POLITICO prior to its publication on Thursday.

It’s unclear whether the move is up for debate and vote, but the bipartisan group suggests mounting support on Capitol Hill to reclaim Congressional prerogatives to wage war and regain the authority of the Commander-in-Chief that has existed in the two decades since The terrorist attacks of September 11th grew considerably. McGovern, meanwhile, chairs the rules committee, which reviews the legislation before entering the House of Representatives.

The legislation mirrors a similar bipartisan war powers bill introduced to the Senate in July by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Mike Lee, R-Utah.

The McGovern and Meijer bill aims to call for Congress at the start of major military hostilities, arms deals, or national emergency declarations – all cases where Congress now effectively needs a veto-proof majority to override the president.

The bill would revise the nearly five-decade-old War Powers Act, long bypassed by presidents of both parties, and cut funding for military operations that are not approved by Congress. It would narrow the window of time for military action that the executive can take before requiring Congressional approval from 60 days to 20 days.

The bill also sets a two-year limit on future war permits and requires that those permits identify targets, audiences, and countries where military force is used. Congress would have to give separate approval to expand these targets, audiences, or countries.

Certain foreign military sales or direct commercial sales of weapons would require Congressional approval. The bill requires lawmakers to approve the sale of air-to-ground ammunition, tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, drones, and certain training and services worth $ 14 million or more. Firearms and ammunition sales of $ 1 million or more would also require approval.

It would also target long-standing national emergency declarations that unlock additional executive powers by asking Congress to approve them within 30 days of the president’s declaration. Congress cannot reject any emergency declarations by the president at the moment, but essentially needs a veto-safe majority to do so. The bill would also include a five-year limit on national emergencies.

Efforts also come as Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the Capitol seek to revoke obsolete war permits such as the 2002 Iraq War permit and rewrite the 2001 law that governs much of US counter-terrorism overseas operations regulates.

The House of Representatives voted in June to repeal the 2002 Iraq warrant, which advocates warn of abuse if it stays on the books. Most Republicans, however, opposed repealing the law without a substitute framework. A similar bipartisan repeal is progressing in the Senate.

House and Senate MPs are also considering how the 2001 post-11th terrorist groups in Africa.

President Joe Biden has supported legislative efforts that would remove or limit some war powers. But the White House has not yet said what specific proposals Biden will or will not approve.

Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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