Explain what the War Powers Act is and how it is an example of the concepts of checks and balances.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The War Powers Resolution (or Act) was a resolution that was passed by Congress in 1973.  The point of the resolution was to place a limit on the power of the president to commit troops to war zones.  It is an example of checks and balances because it is an attempt by Congress to exert some power over the president and prevent the president from having complete freedom of action.

During the Vietnam War, Congress came to feel that it did not have enough power over the military.  The Constitution says only Congress can declare war, but presidents had sent troops to Vietnam without asking Congress to declare war.  That way, Congress really had no say on the matter.  To attempt to rectify this, they passed the War Powers Act.  The Act said that the president has to get permission from Congress to keep troops in a war zone longer than 90 days.

The Constitution sets up a system of checks and balances in which each branch has the ability to limit what the other branches can do.  The War Powers Act attempts to limit what the president can do in terms of committing troops to war zones.  Therefore, it is an example of checks and balances.

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