War Powers Resolution, November 7, 1973
The Constitution divides war powers between Congress and the president to safeguard against reckless military engagements. During the Cold War, presidents led the nation into multiple conflicts, including the Vietnam War, without congressional declarations of war. In 1973 Congress passed a joint War Powers Resolution to reclaim a congressional role in military engagements. It required presidents to consult with Congress before committing U.S. forces. For sudden national security threats, it restricted how long presidents could commit the military without congressional approval. Congress overrode the president’s veto of the bill on November 7, 1973. The War Powers Resolution remains a point of contention between Congress and the executive branch.
General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration
The U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power…To make all Laws.” The original laws enacted by Congress are preserved at the National Archives. This page highlights some of the most historically significant laws Congress has passed throughout the nation’s history.