September 06, 2013

Kaine Hosts Roundtable On War Powers In Norfolk

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, held a roundtable today with veterans and members of the Norfolk community to discuss the issue of war powers and the process of consultation between the executive and legislative branches on military action. Kaine has long called for the President to fully consult with Congress before initiating military action in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in violation of longstanding international norms, and advocated a Congressional debate on the authorization of use of military force. That debate is currently taking place in Congress with a vote on a resolution authorizing a limited use of military force expected in the Senate next week.

“War powers has been a thorny issue,” said Kaine. “Presidents have often overreached and Congress has avoided accountability and not wanted to go on the board when use of military force comes up.”

Throughout the roundtable, Kaine lauded the President’s decision to approach Congress before initiating the use of any military force in Syria. Kaine stressed the importance of political leadership showing unity prior to making any decision with respect to limited military action, and gained feedback from two generations of veterans on revisiting the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Kaine has taken an active role on this issue, having announced a bipartisan effort in July to reform the resolution and strengthen the consultative process between Congress and the President.

“There has been an effort in Congress to support military action in Syria ever since I came to the Senate. I have been one of the ones cautioning involvement because it’s a civil war, but something changed on the 21st of August with the use of chemical weapons on a massive scale in violation of an international norm,” said Kaine. “That global norm has not only protected civilians, it's also protected American servicemembers. I hope Congress next week will affirm that the United States still cares about the principle of no use of chemical weapons.”

In 2007, the Miller Center at the University of Virginia empanelled a bipartisan National War Powers Commission, led by former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher.  After a 14 month process including legislative, administrative, diplomatic, military and academic leadership, the Commission issued a unanimous report to the President and Congress, urging the repeal of the War Powers Resolution. In addition, the report outlined principles for a replacement measure designed to promote transparent dialogue and clear decision-making.  Kaine has spotlighted the Commission’s report as a strong starting point that would preserve the constitutional powers of each branch while establishing a straightforward and constitutionally sound process.