Congress and War

How the House and the Senate Can Reclaim Their Role

A tourist stands in front of the U.S. Capitol, January 2010. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

It is easy to conclude that the U.S. Congress is simply incapable of playing a constructive role in matters of war and peace. Paralyzed by gridlock, the hyperpartisan body regularly betrays its constitutional responsibility to act as a serious check on the executive branch, often preferring instead to launch ideological crusades aimed at scoring political points. Congress has spent thousands of hours on deeply partisan investigations of the murders of four U.S. officials and contractors in Benghazi, Libya, but refrained from making any decision on the military intervention that brought them to that chaotic city in the first place. Although the Obama administration began arming and training rebels in Syria over three years ago, neither chamber of Congress has held a debate over the U.S. policy in the civil war there. And two years after the administration started sending U.S. forces into Iraq and Syria to

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