The War Powers Act, which Congress passed in 1973, and the National Emergencies Act, which it approved three years later, were both intended to curb presidential power grabs. But until last week, Congress had never used them for that purpose. We can thank Donald Trump for this belated attempt to enforce the Constitution’s separation of powers, Jacob Sullum says.
Trump is hardly the first president to use the military however he likes without bothering to ask permission from Congress, which has the constitutional power to declare war. Nor is he the first president to usurp the power of the purse. But he is the first to provoke the sort of response we saw last week, when Senate majorities that included Republicans rejected U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen and the president’s phony border emergency.