Kaine speaks at University
Discusses initiative to amend War Powers Act
Students and onlookers gathered in Garrett Hall Wednesday for a foreign policy address from Sen. Tim Kaine.
Kaine focused his talk on a recent bipartisan initiative proposed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and himself, which, if passed, will usurp the long-standing War Powers Act of 1973.
The War Powers Act allows the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of declaring war, but should Congress disapprove of the decision, he has 60 days start the withdrawal process and 90 days to completely remove all troops from conflict.
“In a number of instances, Congress never gave the President the authority for military action,” Kaine said. “Most recently, President Obama committed U.S troops into a combat operation in Libya in 2011 as part of a NATO mission and never sought permission from Congress and was censured by the House of Representatives for doing so.”
Kaine said that this lack of a political consensus violates the rights of the men and women who serve in combat.
“We shouldn’t ask men and women to risk their lives on the battlefield if there’s not a political consensus that says ‘This mission is worth it,’” he said. “And if you don’t get Congress on board with respect to military action and there’s any ambiguity at all between the executive and the legislature, then you’re doing what I would think would be the most horrible thing of all: asking those who are willing to serve, risk their lives, risk their health when the political branches of government haven’t done the work to determine whether the mission is worthwhile.”
Kaine said he and McCain came together during the summer to try to figure out a resolution to the failures of the War Powers Act.
“Number one … we put a very functional definition [for war],” he said. “War is the use of American troops in combat for more than seven days.”
The bill would also create a “consultation committee” with members from both houses of Congress to discuss any potential upcoming uses of military force with the president, and then require all members of Congress to vote on any war action if the president wants to proceed.