Why did the Vietnam War cause Congress to pass the War Powers Act?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The United States had been involved in long and difficult conflicts in Korea and Vietnam without a Congressional Declaration of War. Under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war, and the President acts as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Congress also has the authority under the Constitution to maintain an army and navy. A large number of congressmen became concerned that allowing the President to engage in undeclared war on his own authority usurped the authority of Congress. There was the fear that presidential action was gradually eroding the intent of the framers of the Constitution to gtive Congress the ultimate authority on committing U.S. forces to combat. The situation was perhaps aggravated because the Vietnam conflict was much longer and more involved than anyone had previously expected. This led Congress to pass the War Powers Resolution which was vetoed by President Richard Nixon. Both Houses of Congress overrode the veto and the Resolution became law.

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