What Is the War Powers Resolution of 1973?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent President Obama a letter Tuesday claiming that he will soon be in violation of the War Powers Resolution, as the 90-day mark of the U.S.’ involvement in NATO air strikes in Libya approaches.

Boehner reminded the president that is bound by the Constitution to ensure “laws be faithfully executed,” including the War Powers Resolution:

"Given the mission you have ordered to the U.S. Armed Forces with respect to Libya and the text of the War Powers Resolution, the House is left to conclude that you have made one of two determinations: either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution," he wrote.

As Politico’s Jonathan Allen reported, Boehner had previously voted to repeal the law in 1995 on the grounds that it excessively hampered the president’s role as commander-in-chief. However, a spokesman for Speaker Boehner said that those views did not contradict the assertion that the president must uphold the laws as they are.

(White House photo)

President Obama is expected to issue a formal response Wednesday. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement that they “are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya.”

So what exactly is the The War Powers Act of 1973?

Let’s start at the Library of Congress. They offer an overview this way:

"The Constitution of the United States divides the war powers of the federal government between the Executive and Legislative branches: the President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces (Article II, section 2), while Congress has the power to make declarations of war, and to raise and support the armed forces (Article I, section 8). Over time, questions arose as to the extent of the President’s authority to deploy U.S. armed forces into hostile situations abroad without a declaration of war or some other form of Congressional approval. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in the aftermath of the Vietnam War to address these concerns and provide a set of procedures for both the President and Congress to follow in situations where the introduction of U.S. forces abroad could lead to their involvement in armed conflict.”

President Nixon actually vetoed the law in 1973, so the war powers act is a joint resolution of Congress, which has most the same legal effects as a piece of signed legislation. However, as the LOC explains, several U.S. presidents have taken the stance that the resolution is an infringement of executive branch powers - so its authority has often been a matter of debate.

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(Source: newshour.pbs.org)

What We’re Reading: Ancient Fossils, Opossums, and Bones

Photo by Flickr user Alice Chaos 

Ancient Fossils Have Evolution’s First Shells

This story details a process called biomineralization, and the first known evidence of the phenomenon, found in 750 million-year-old, spectacularly preserved fossils. Biomineralization is the ability to convert minerals into hard, physical structures — the process that allows for bones, shells, teeth and hair, Wired’s Brandon Keim explains. It also strives to tackle the question ofwhy — after 3 billion years without them — did bones evolve at all? (Brandeim Keim, Wired Science)

A Fast Life and Success that Starts in the Pouch


Natalie Angier writes here on what she deems “our own private Australia,” the opossum.  The opossum is the United States’ only living example of a marsupial animal — one that gestates its young in its pouch. Scientists, she reports, say that the earliest living marsupials probably closely resembled these animals, and that all other marsupials were derived from them. A fascinating look at an animal with 50 teeth and a “casually relentless adaptability” that we don’t often think about. (Natalie Angier, New York Times)

Storms Brewing


Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest piece in the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town takes a sweeping look at weather related disasters worldwide — including the tornados in Joplin, Missouri, the Mississippi River flooding, drought along China’s Yangtze River and excessive rainfall in Colombia — and presents a harsh look at the administration’s climate policies. “Since the midterm elections, Obama has barely mentioned climate change, and just about every decision that his administration has made on energy and the environment has been wrong,” she writes.  The story ends with a warning. Worth reading. (Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker)   

'Alzheimer's' in the Down Syndrome Brain


Scientists have found amyloid plaques and tau tangles — well-known markers of Alzheimer’s disease — in the brains of adult patients with Down Syndrome.  This may helps explain why older people with Down Syndrome develop a form of dementia that’s similar to Alzheimer’s.  But the brain region where the plaques and tangles are found is different, Science reports. (Sarah C.P. Williams, Science NOW)

 Photo by Flickr user Alice Chaos

(Source: newshour.pbs.org)

How do you feel about Bin Laden’s death? How significant do you think it is? Mark your comments on this grid, and see how others feel. Fascinating!
(Submitted by Managing Producer Patti Parson)

How do you feel about Bin Laden’s death? How significant do you think it is? Mark your comments on this grid, and see how others feel. Fascinating!

(Submitted by Managing Producer Patti Parson)

Mark Shields and David Brooks: What do you want to know?

A Q & A with Mark Shields and David Brooks on Reddit.

They’ll answer on the DoubleHeader tomorrow-so what have you always wanted to know about behind the scenes with these influential and prolific columnists and commentators?

Ask away-and compete to get the most upvoted question to be answered.

Intelligence welcome.