Accession Number:



War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance

Descriptive Note:

Congressional rept.

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Two separate but closely related issues confront Congress each time the President introduces Armed Forces into a situation abroad that conceivably could lead to their involvement in hostilities. One issue concerns the division of war powers between the President and Congress, whether the use of Armed Forces falls within the purview of the congressional power to declare war and the War Powers Resolution WPR. The other issue is whether or not Congress concurs in the wisdom of the action. This report does not deal with the substantive merits of using Armed Forces in specific cases, but rather with congressional authorization for military action, and the application and effectiveness of the WPR. The purpose of the WPR, which passed on Nov 7, 1973, is to ensure that Congress and the President share in making decisions that may get the United States involved in hostilities. Compliance becomes an issue whenever the President introduces U.S. forces abroad in situations that might be construed as hostilities or imminent hostilities. Criteria for compliance include prior consultation with Congress, fulfillment of the reporting requirements, and congressional authorization. If the President has not complied fully, the issue becomes what action Congress should take to bring about compliance or to influence U.S. policy. A related issue has been congressional authorization of U.N. peacekeeping or other U.N.-sponsored actions. Debate continues on whether using the War Powers Resolution is effective as a means of assuring congressional participation in decisions that might get the United States involved in a significant military conflict. Proposals have been made to modify or repeal the resolution. None have been enacted to date. Presidents have submitted 132 reports to Congress as a result of the War Powers Resolution. Brief summaries of reports submitted by President George W. Bush from Jan 2004-Dec 2008, and by President Barack Obama since Jan 2009 are included in this report.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: