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Symposium on Congressional Capacity and Endless War in Afghanistan & Syria

Organizer: R Street Institute

U.S. military personnel invaded Afghanistan almost two decades ago, and the U.S government began supplying aid to Syrian rebels in 2012. In neither case did Congress use its Article I authority to declare war. In fact, Congress has not declared war since 1942. Instead, presidential administrations have justified their military actions in Afghanistan or Syria. For example, Congress passed an "authorization of the use of military force" (AUMF) in 2001 to permit the Bush administration to use U.S. military resources against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. This sort of presidentially-initiated military intervention is a far cry from what the Founders intended.

Join the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group on November 12 to discuss this constitutionally anomalous situation and congressional capacity over war powers and foreign affairs.

Location: Capitol Visitor Center, CVC 268, Washington, DC

Balance of Power

A Democratic proposal would make it significantly more difficult for third parties to get on the ballot in New York.

In the Empire State, Democrats push to perpetuate a two-party empire

Those who say the two-party duopoly is not so great for the republic will not be heartened by developments in New York this week.

Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the Democratic Party in the fourth largest state, is pushing to effectively neutralize almost all of the Empire State's minor political parties. And his proposal seems to have the ear of others on a special commission charged with revising some aspects of election law by the end of the year.

His other ideas for eliminating third parties have not gone far. This one looks like it will.

The new Jacobs plan would increase fivefold, to about 250,000, the number of votes a political party needs to receive in one election in order to get a line on the ballot in the next one. Republicans and Democrats, who routinely draw more than 2 million votes each in statewide contests, are the only parties for which this would be no problem.

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"For Trump, impeachment is likely, removal is dubious, and a re-election campaign is all but certain," write Kristen Nyman and Anthony Marcum.

Three impeachment scenarios dangerous for democracy

Nyman is a government affairs specialist and Marcum is a governance fellow at the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

Imagine the following: Early next year the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump. One of these three scenarios is likely to follow.

Behind curtain number one, the president is acquitted at the subsequent trial in the Senate. He then takes the stage in Charlotte, N.C., to accept the Republican nomination for president in 2020.

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Balance of Power
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"While the current battle between Trump and congressional Democrats is newsworthy, it is not entirely new," writes Jennifer Selin.

Trump, Ukraine and a whistleblower: Ever since 1796, Congress has struggled to keep presidents in check

Selin is an assistant professor of Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

George Washington, hero of the American Revolution and the country's first president, in 1796 withheld documents the House of Representatives had requested from him regarding treaty negotiations with France.

Washington thought that giving the House papers respecting a negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous precedent.

Washington's reluctance to hand over these documents has echoed through time, in conflicts between Congress and Presidents Monroe, Jefferson, Adams all the way to Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan, among others. For the most part, members of Congress still must rely on the president and his administration for information in the areas of foreign relations and intelligence.

In the latest version of that long-running tension between Congress and the president over power, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared before the House Intelligence Committee last week.

The testimony is part of a chain of events that began in August when an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, who is tasked by Congress to identify problems in the national intelligence agencies. The complaint related to reports that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. The developing conflict between Trump and Congress has involved, among other aspects, a struggle over who can have access to crucial documents.

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