Congressional War Powers

Linda L. Fowler

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Congressional War Powers

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  • US Politics
  • International Relations



Since World War II, the executive branch has dominated international affairs, while legislators have used their power occasionally and reactively. Lawmakers seem to have a diminished capacity for responding to executive initiatives and seem to put party loyalty ahead of institutional loyalty i9n overseeing defense and foreign policy. Nevertheless, the Constitution remains a dominating force, conferring powers on the House and Senate that may pose a potential threat or constraint to the executive powers. This article evaluates literatures on congressional war powers. It considers how constitutional developments in both the legislative and executive branches have resulted to a relatively weak institution today. It also compares the direct and indirect pathways for the lawmakers to affect executive decision-making and suggests that less visible forms of constraints are potent, although difficult to measure. The article then turns its focus to future directions for research, particularly on the role of parties in affecting the balance between the legislative and executive branches and the indirect forms of influence on the use of force.

Keywords: congressional war powers; legislative; executive; legislators; power; war; constitution

Article.  10412 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; International Relations

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