43 Harv. Int'l L.J. 71 (2002)
The President, the Congress, and Use of Force: Legal and Political Considerations in Authorizing Use of Force against International Terrorism

handle is hein.journals/hilj43 and id is 77 raw text is: VOLUME 43, NUMBER 1, WINTER 2002

The President, the Congress, and
Use of Force:
Legal and Political Considerations in
Authorizing Use of Force Against
International Terrorism
David Abramowitz*
Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress has worked closely with Presi-
dent George W. Bush to respond to the terrorist attacks in New York and
Washington. Based on the horror of the attacks themselves, fears of further
attacks against their constituents, and the virtually unanimous support for
the President expressed by the American people, Congress has been recep-
tive to rapid enactment of a number of legislative initiatives proposed by the
Bush Administration to create a statutory framework to respond to these
horrendous events and their aftermath. In this political environment, virtu-
ally any legislation put before members in either chamber is difficult to op-
pose, and much of the consideration on how to modulate the President's
proposals is left to closed-door discussions between the President, the con-
gressional leadership, and their respective representatives. As Chief Demo-
cratic Counsel of the Committee on International Relations in the House of
Representatives, I participated in discussions regarding one of these propos-
als that became law: the statutory authorization to use force related to the
events of September 11 (S.J. Res. 23,1 attached as Appendix I to this Essay).
While consideration of such legislation would normally have gone through
the Committee, in this case the majority and minority leaders of both
chambers conducted the negotiations.2 My role was to advise the staffs of
both Senator Thomas Daschle and Representative Richard A. Gephardt
during the course of the discussions.
* Democratic Chief Counsel, Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives.
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and do not represent the views of the Committee or
any of its members.
1. Authorization for Use of Military Force, S.J. Res. 23, 107th Cong., 115 Star. 224 (2001) (signed by
the President on September 18, 2001) [hereinafter S.J. Res. 23]. The resolution was formally introduced
in the Senate on the morning of September 14, 2001, passed immediately with relatively little debate by
a vote of 98-0, passed later that day by the House of Representatives after extensive discussion by a vote
of 420-1, and signed by the President on September 18, 2001.
2. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt from the House of Represen-
tatives, and Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and Minority Leader Trent Lott from the Senate.

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