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McGovern Bill Balances Power of President, Congress

By TWIW Staff | October 1, 2021
Last Updated: October 1, 2021

Congressional Representative for the second Massachusetts District and Chairman of the House Rules Committee

Congressman Jim McGovern introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 29, aimed at reasserting Congress in matters of national security and recalibrating the balance of power between the President and Congress.

The bill has bi-partisan support, with Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan, a Republican, introducing the bill with McGovern. Its cosponsors include Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, a Republican. Democrats who are cosponsors include Peter DeFazio (OR), Barbara Lee (CA), Joaquin Castro (TX) and Ted Lieu (CA).

H.R. 5410, the National Security Reforms and Accountability Act (NSRAA), prescribes reforms in three major areas.

War Powers Reforms

  • Reduces the time a President can conduct hostilities that aren’t authorized by Congress from 60 days to 20 days, making it harder for the Executive branch to start hostilities that are not defensive.
  • Automatically cuts off funding if the President does not secure congressional authorization.
  • Outlines requirements for future authorizations for use of military force, including a clearly defined mission and operational objectives, the identities of groups or countries targeted, and a two-year sunset. A subsequent authorization is required to expand the list of objectives, countries or targeted groups

Arms Exports

  • Requires congressional approval of certain types of foreign military sales and direct commercial sales that reach certain thresholds.
    • Air to ground munitions of $14,000,000 or more
    • Tanks, armored vehicles, and related munitions of $14,000,000 or more
    • Firearms and ammunition of $1,000,000 or more
    • Fixed and rotary, manned and unmanned aircraft of $14,000,000 or more
    • Services and training above a certain value of $14,000,000 or more

National Emergencies Reform

  • Requires Congress approve emergency declarations.
  • Prevents the President from exploiting a crisis to increase executive authority by limiting national emergency powers.
  • Ends permanent emergencies by imposing a 5-year total limit on states of emergency. . There are currently 39 declared emergencies, some dating back decades.

There is a similar bill in the Senate, which is also bipartisan, sponsored by Senators Chris Murphy, a Democrat of Connecticut, Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, and Mike Lee, a Republican of Utah. That bill is S. 2391, the National Security Powers Act.

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