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Commission Recommends Changes to Way US Goes to War

By VOA News
08 July 2008

Two former U.S. secretaries of state are recommending the United States change how it decides to go to war.

They say the president should be required by law to consult with Congress before ordering a "significant armed conflict", and Congress should be required to approve or disapprove the action within 30 days.

James Baker, who served under Republican President George H.W. Bush, and Warren Christopher, who served under Democratic President Bill Clinton, led a year-long study by the National War Powers Commission.

The proposal is designed to improve the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which was passed in response to the Vietnam War. Both Baker and Christopher argue it is, at best, ineffective, and at worst, unconstitutional.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Washington, Baker said their proposal is not
directed toward any particular conflict that the nation has been involved in.

Baker said the commission has been in contact with both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, and representatives of the congressional leadership about enacting legislation.

A new Gallup opinion poll shows 79 percent of Americans think the president should be required to get approval from Congress before sending troops into combat outside the United States.

Under the Constitution, Congress is granted power to control war funding. Democrats, who took control of Congress last year, have tried to include orders to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in war funding bills.

But U.S. President George Bush has repeatedly rejected deadlines for pulling troops out of combat.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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