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Historical Highlights

The War Powers Resolution

October 24, 1973
The War Powers Resolution Image courtesy of Library of Congress During her four terms in the House, Elizabeth Holtzman earned national prominence as an active member of the Judiciary Committee during the Richard M. Nixon impeachment inquiry and as a cofounder of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues.
Labeling the bill “unconstitutional and dangerous,” President Richard M. Nixon vetoed the War Powers Resolution on this date. The legislation highlighted a significant constitutional issue: the President is the commander in chief of American armed forces, but Congress has the sole power to declare war. The War Powers Act permitted the President to dispatch U.S. forces abroad, but forced the executive to report to Congress within 48 hours of the action. Congress would then have 60 days to approve or reject the action. Author of the bill, Representative Clement Zabloki of Wisconsin stated its intent was, “to insure that it [Congress] is permitted to exercise to the fullest Constitutional responsibilities over questions of peace and war.” The result of widespread discontent with the Vietnam War and public support for curbing the President’s ability to wage an undeclared war, the House passed the bill 238 to 123. Critics of the legislation thought it did not have enough power. New York Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman criticized the 60 day response period, noting that the President should not be able to continue an “unconstitutional and illegal” act for 60 days. Congress overrode Nixon’s veto in November 1973.

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