Getting into the Act: War Powers Resolution and Lebanon

When President Reagan and Congress jousted last week over the question of their respective roles in Lebanon, they focused attention on a much debated, little understood piece of legislation: the War Powers Resolution. Passed in 1973, when the Viet Nam War was raging, the act was intended to limit a President's ability to wage undeclared war without congressional consent.

The resolution has two provisions. First, when U.S. forces "equipped for combat" are deployed abroad on anything other than routine training exercises, the President must inform Congress of that fact within 48 hours. Second, if troops are sent to situations where "imminent involvement...

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