(The Center Square) – A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress aims to bring back the balance of power with the president, according to the co-authors of the bill.
Congressman James P. McGovern, D-MA, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Peter Meijer, R-MI, ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Management & Accountability, introduced the National Security Reforms and Accountability Act (NSRAA) on Thursday.
The bill, known as H.R. 5410, aims to “reassert congressional power over matters of national security,” according to a news release.
If approved, the bill would “recalibrate the balance of power between the president and congress by reclaiming congressional oversight of arms sales, emergency declarations, and the use of military force,” according to the release.
We're introducing this bill because, for decades and decades, presidents of both parties have slowly but surely usurped congressional power on matters of national security, regardless of who's in the Oval Office or which party is in charge on Capitol Hill. https://t.co/SWaKWiQlxU— Rep. Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) September 30, 2021
“For decades, presidents of both parties have slowly but surely usurped Congressional authority on matters of national security,” McGovern said in the release. “It’s happened regardless of who occupies the Oval Office or which party is in charge on Capitol Hill. Clearly, this is not the system of checks and balances our constitution envisions.
“Congress is the branch of government closest to the people and it is our duty to make tough decisions about when, where, and how to put American troops in harm’s way. We need to come together in a bipartisan way to reclaim our rightful role as a co-equal branch of government before it’s too late, and that is what the National Security Reforms and Accountability Act aims to do.”
Meijer said that allowing presidents “to supersede Congress’ authority over matters of war and peace is a dereliction of congressional responsibility.”
According to the release, there are three key components of the bill that address war powers reform, arms export reform, and national emergencies reform. The bill sets rules and procedures “to reassert and safeguard congressional prerogatives.”
Under the bill, the president would have to shorten the 60-day termination clock when it comes to ending hostilities not approved by Congress to 20 days. Plus, funding would automatically be cut off if the president doesn’t seek Congressional approval for military action.
Under arms sales reform, the legislation would require Congress to authorize foreign military sales and direct commercial sales of the most destructive and destabilizing weapons at costs above $14 million for air to ground munitions, tanks and related munitions, and $1 million for firearms and ammunition.
For national security, the bill requires Congress to approve an emergency declaration and specific emergency powers within 30 days, while powers invoked by the president must be related to and only address the emergency.
The president, under the bill, would be mandated to “consult congressional leaders and obtain congressional authorization before exercising the powers in question,” the release reads. Additionally, Congress approval would have to meet certain criteria, including automatic sunset.