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Posts Tagged ‘War Powers’

Support Grows for West Virginia Bill to Block Unconstitutional National Guard Deployments | | Tenth Amendment Center Blog

Posted by M. C. on February 12, 2020


CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Feb. 10, 2020) – There was political drama in West Virginia last week as the sponsor of a bill that would prohibit unconstitutional foreign combat deployments of the state’s national guard troops narrowly failed in a parliamentary move to get it discharged from committee. Even so, support for the legislation is growing.

**If you live in West Virginia, scroll to the bottom of the report for important action steps.

House Bill 2732 (HB2732) would prohibit the deployment of West Virginia Guard troops in “active duty combat” unless there is a declaration of war from Congress, as required by the Constitution.

Last Thursday, bill sponsor Del. Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock) used a parliamentary maneuver to try to discharge the bill from the House Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center say that committee chair Del. Tom Bibby (R-Berkeley) put the bill on the committee schedule but then withdrew it due to pressure from Speaker of the House Del. Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay).

McGeehan’s attempt to bypass the committee process and bring the bill directly to the House floor failed by a tie 50-50 vote.

But the effort was not a complete loss. It sparked a 30-minute debate on the House floor that drew significant media attention in the state.

McGeehan served as an Air Force intelligence officer with tours in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He said war is the most serious operation, most serious enterprise a government could engage in.

“It’s near and dear to my heart, because it’s been clear to me that over the last two decades we’ve had this sort of status quo where it is somehow acceptable for unilateral action to be taken not by just the executive, but also the Pentagon to send our men and women in the Armed Forces overseas into undeclared wars and unending wars,” McGeehan said.

Several veterans spoke in favor of the bill, including Bibby.

“Any discussions when it comes to war and peace, those are important things we need to talk about — where we are headed,” Bibby said. “We’ve gone far from where our Founding Fathers wanted us to be. It’s important we take a stand. We want our nation to be strong, but we’ve got to stop the endless wars we’ve had in the last 50 years.”

Bibby committed to bringing the bill up in committee.

Del. S. Marshall Wilson, (I-Berkeley) also spoke in support of the bill. Wilson served in the Army and said his daughter is currently deployed overseas with the Guard. His son plans to apply to a military academy.

“They are going to take my kids,” he said. “They have to answer for it.”

In an op-ed, the Morgantown Dominion Post wrote, “”For the record, our newspaper supports HB2732.”

“It’s obvious that Congress has abdicated its duty to declare war, ceding absolute power to the president, who in turn has abused his authority over Guard units. That thought is not just directed at President Trump, but every Democratic and Republican administration since at least the 1950s, that have all engaged in this abuse of the Guard’s members and their families for too long.”

It appears that public support is also behind the measure. In an online poll hosted by the Huntington West Virginia Herald-Dispatch, support was almost 2-1 in favor of the bill.


Guard troops have played significant roles in all modern overseas conflicts, with over 650,000 deployed since 2001. reports that “Guard and Reserve units made up about 45 percent of the total force sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, and received about 18.4 percent of the casualties.” More specifically, West Virginia National Guard troops have participated in missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo and elsewhere.

Since none of these missions have been accompanied by a Constitutional declaration of war, the Defend the Guard Act would have prohibited those deployments. Such declarations have only happened five times in U.S. history, with the last being at the onset of World War II.


Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16 make up the “militia clauses” of the Constitution. Clause 16 authorizes Congress to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia.” In the Dick Act of 1903, Congress organized the militia into today’s National Guard, limiting the part of the militia that could be called into federal service rather than the “entire body of people,” which makes up the totality of the “militia.” Thus, today’s National Guard is governed by the “militia clauses” of the Constitution, and this view is confirmed by the National Guard itself.

Clause 15 delegates to the Congress the power to provide for “calling forth the militia” in three situations only: 1) to execute the laws of the union, 2) to suppress insurrections, and 3) to repel invasions.

During state ratifying conventions, proponents of the Constitution, including James Madison and Edmund Randolph, repeatedly assured the people that this power to call forth the militia into federal service would be limited to those very specific situations, and not for general purposes, like helping victims of a disease outbreak or engaging in “kinetic military actions.”

It is this limited Constitutional structure that advocates of the Defend the Guard Act seek to restore. That is, use of the Guard for the three expressly-delegated purposes in the Constitution, and at other times to remain where the Guard belongs, at home, supporting and protecting their home state.


HB2732 is scheduled for a hearing in House Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. on Feb. 11, at 2 p.m.

  1. W. Va. residents who support the bill should call every member of the committee. Be firm, but professional and urge them to vote YES on HB2732. A phone call is more effective than an email. You will find contact info for committee members HERE.
  2. Contact Speaker of the House Hanshaw. Politely but firmly let them know you support HB2732 and ask them to advance it through the House.

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Nate's Nonsense: Daniel Chester French

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Why Is Congress So Afraid to Use Its War Powers? – Rolling Stone

Posted by M. C. on January 16, 2020

The encounter, Wyden says, is a reminder that there are real and dire consequences to Congress’ inaction. “I’m always struck by how these debates that go on in Washington,” he says, “that seem so sterile compared to when a mom is in front of you in a small town in Oregon, crying because for her, what she wants to know, and what she deserves to know, is if her boy on the other side of the world is going to be safe.”

It was the rarest of sightings: Last week, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives approved a resolution to restrict the president’s ability to go to war with Iran. The vote happened one week after the Trump administration assassinated via drone strike Iran’s top general. Government officials have offered only the flimsiest of evidence to justify the attack while putting the country on the path toward yet another conflict in the Middle East.

What’s so striking about the House’s symbolic rebuke of Trump is that Congress bothered to do it at all. For decades, America’s elected representatives have green-lit bloated defense budgets year after year, allowed Democratic and Republican presidents to wage endless wars around the world, and done little to assert the legislative branch’s authority when it comes to one of the most difficult decisions a lawmaker may face. The last time Congress formally declared a state of war was in 1942 with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. In other words, they’ve all but abdicated their constitutional duty to decide when the country goes to war and with whom.


“Our system is not designed to have one person in charge of war,” Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan who quit the Republican Party last year, tells Rolling Stone. “But that’s the system we now have.”

How did this happen? Why is Congress asleep at the wheel?

On September 18th, 2001, Congress passed legislation authorizing the use of military force against the planners of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, paving the way for the Afghan invasion and hunt for Osama bin Laden. Almost a year later, on October 16th, 2002, Congress passed another Authorization for the Use of Military Force, better known as an AUMF. This one paved the way for President Bush’s war in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

But in the years that followed, the scope and meaning of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs were stretched beyond recognition. They were used by Democratic and Republican administrations to justify interventions on multiple continents and against terrorist organizations and individuals that, in some cases, didn’t exist at the time the two AUMFs were enacted. Instead of pushing back, Congress went mute. With a few lonely exceptions over the years, elected officials from both parties stood idly by as different administrations ordered troops all over the world, often with shifting objectives and no end in sight, costing tens of thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. “We’ve let the executive walk all over this institution,” says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

There’s a constitutional argument for Congress reclaiming its war powers; there’s also a practical one. Elected members of Congress are the voices of the people back home. Without real debate over whether to declare war, citizens have little say over one of the most serious and consequential decisions a government can make.

“I represent more troops than any other member of this body. I buried one of them earlier today at Arlington,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of Trump’s most ardent supporters in the House, in announcing his intention to vote in favor of the resolution. “If our servicemembers have the courage to fight and die in these wars, Congress ought to have the courage to vote for or against them.”

Interviews with the lawmakers who have resisted endless wars dictated by the White House shed light on why the legislative branch has been reluctant to step up.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a stalwart progressive, calls a vote to go to war “one of the most difficult votes anyone can make.” Foreign policy is a difficult and unpredictable issue that can sink the careers of politicians with an eye on higher office. Merkley says members of Congress see limited incentive to do their job given the potential consequences.

“There’s a collective group of senators and House members who are like, ‘Well, if we leave this with the president we don’t have to take these tough votes over the use of force,’” he says. “People look back at the vote to authorize the administration to go after Saddam Hussein. Biden probably thinks about that just about every day.”

In 2018, Merkley introduced legislation that would repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs and put a three-year expiration date on future AUMFs. The bill never got out of the Foreign Relations Committee. Still, Merkley continues to speak out about the need for Congress to challenge presidential war powers. “Presidents did not respect the actual language of the AUMFs,” he says, “so we need to explicitly slap them upside the head and restore the role of Congress.”

Rep. Amash, a libertarian who is a critic of runaway defense spending and interventionist foreign policy, says Congress’ silence on war powers is indicative of a broader abdication by rank-and-file lawmakers on most business…

The most recent debate over the Trump administration’s killing of Qasem Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, revealed another possible reason for Capitol Hill’s reluctance to reclaim its authority on war powers: a fear of looking weak. In one example, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the prestigious Judiciary Committee, ridiculously accused House Democrats of being “in love with terrorists” for daring to debate (as is their constitutional duty) President Trump’s authority to declare war and launch future attacks on Iran. Collins, who later apologized, wasn’t the only Republican trotting out this tired weak-on-terrorism soundbite…

Sen. Bernie Sanders cited the potential for such attacks as one reason lawmakers have gone silent on war powers. “I think perhaps the answer has been the fear that somebody will be seen as being soft on terrorism, not prepared to defend the troops or whatever,” Sanders says. “But the truth is we have seen under Republican and Democratic administrations Congress not utilizing its responsibilities under the Constitution.”…

The encounter, Wyden says, is a reminder that there are real and dire consequences to Congress’ inaction. “I’m always struck by how these debates that go on in Washington,” he says, “that seem so sterile compared to when a mom is in front of you in a small town in Oregon, crying because for her, what she wants to know, and what she deserves to know, is if her boy on the other side of the world is going to be safe.”

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American National Government




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GOP Leaders Want to Delay Yemen War Powers Vote – News From

Posted by M. C. on March 16, 2018

Those wishing to contact their senators to urge them to support SJ Res. 54 should call 1 (202) 899-8938. Tentatively, the vote is still expected to happen next week.

Jason Ditz

Expectations are that the Senate War Powers vote on the Yemen War, SJ Res 54, will come up for debate and a vote next week. That may not happen if the Republican leadership gets its way, however, as many are opposed to the bill, and are trying to stall a vote…. Read the rest of this entry »

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