I rather suspect there’d have been a mighty uproar if Dick Cheney had told Congress he’d send members a few press releases to keep them informed of developments in Iraq. This, however, seems to be the Obama administration’s current position vis a vis the kinetic military action in Libya:
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who asked Clinton about the War Powers Act during a classified briefing, said Clinton and the administration are sidestepping the measure’s provisions giving Congress the ability to put a 60-day time limit on any military action.
"They are not committed to following the important part of the War Powers Act," he told TPM in a phone interview. "She said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they’ll send that to us too."
Of course even if Congress were minded to pass a resolution that restrained the administration’s war plans the administration would just ignore it. It’s a nice notion this idea that only Congress can declare war but it’s not something that troubles Presidents of either party and nor, for that matter, is Congress especially interested in reasserting its prerogatives. And so the Imperial Presidency marches on, unchecked and unsupervised and indifferent to quaint old-fashioned notions of constitutional propriety. This too has been the case for many years so no-one should be surprised that the Secretary of State holds Congress in such contempt.
Like so much else in Washington the current conventions suit all parties. That is, changing them would invite scrutiny and risk and so it’s simpler just to let matters lie as they are. A Republic, if you can keep it and all that…
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.