New House Bill Is a Welcome Step in Restoring Congressional War Powers


CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, [email protected], 202.800.4662

WASHINGTON, DC — The Quincy Institute welcomes the introduction today of the National Security Reforms and Accountability Act (NSRAA) in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation offers a much-needed rebalancing of warmaking authority between Congress and the executive branch.

“The concentration of war powers in the presidency has been a defining feature of the post-9/11 era, and has enabled the executive to perpetuate wars endlessly,” Quincy Institute CEO Lora Lumpe said. “This bill aims to correct that in order to ensure that decisions on war and peace are subject to public scrutiny and debate.”

The bill, introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern and Peter Meijer, and co-sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee, Joaquin Castro, Nancy Mace, Peter DeFazio, and Ted Lieu, would require that all military interventions, emergency declarations, and most foriegn arms sales take place only with express authorization from Congress. 

The bill further ensures that when an authorization to use lethal force is provided, it must have a clearly defined purpose, and regular review by Congress. This legislation gives teeth to the original War Powers Act by automatically cutting funding for unauthorized military action, where current law requires a veto-proof congressional majority to terminate an intervention. It would also flip the process for arms sales to most countries, requiring Congress to affirm the sales it wants to go forward, rather than to muster a veto proof majority of both chambers of Congress to block an arms sale it opposes. Congress has never been able to meet that high bar.  

The introduction of this bill follows a similar bipartisan piece of legislation in the Senate, introduced in July by Sens. Chris Murphy, Mike Lee, and Bernie Sanders.

“Together, these measures will restore Congress’s constitutionally-mandated power over when and where the United States goes to war — whether directly or through military support to third countries,” Lumpe said. “Congress should embrace this opportunity to reclaim its authority, and ensure that the American people have a say in the most vital of national security decisions.”