President Richard Nixon’s letter to the House of Representatives regarding his veto of the War Powers Resolution, 1973
President Richard Nixon vetoed the War Powers Resolution on October 24, 1973. Writing to Congress, he stated that its restrictions on executive power would undermine the nation’s ability to respond to international crises. Nixon claimed that only a constitutional amendment could limit presidential power. Congress overrode the veto on November 7 to establish the War Powers Act of 1973.
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
Congress Limits Presidential War Powers
The Constitution divides war powers between Congress and the president. Only Congress can declare war and appropriate military funding, but the president is commander in chief of the armed forces. The United States nonetheless engaged in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam without congressional declarations of war. After President Richard Nixon ordered the bombing of Cambodia without Congress’s consent, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973, intended to limit the president’s authority to conduct war.
While Congress holds the constitutional authority to declare war, it is balanced by the president’s authority as commander in chief. In 1973 Congress passed legislation further clarifying the division of power.