H.Con.Res. 301: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan

H.Con.Res. 301

Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Pakistan

Date
July 27, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.Con.Res. 301 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, subject to a rule. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on July 22, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.Con.Res. 301 would direct the President to remove the U.S. Armed Forces from Pakistan within 30 days.  Or, if the President determines that it is not safe to remove the U.S. Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2010, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed Forces can safely be removed.

Background

War Powers ResolutionThe Constitution divides war powers between Congress and the president.  Congress has the power to declare war and raise and support the armed forces, while the president is commander in chief.

This legislation invokes an arguably unconstitutional provision of the 1973 War Powers Resolution (P.L. 93-148) to direct an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Pakistan.  The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing forces to military action and forbids forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.  The 1973 law was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto.

Under the terms of that act, if the president commits U.S. troops to foreign hostilities without a declaration of war or statutory authorization, he must withdraw them within a period of 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes a longer deployment.  A concurrent withdrawal resolution, not requiring the president's signature, can be introduced at any time and must be referred to a committee, which has 15 days to report the measure.  It then becomes pending floor business to be voted up or down within three days.

Every president since Richard Nixon has argued that the war powers law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the president's prerogatives as commander in chief.  This argument was supported by the Supreme Court's decision in a 1983 immigration case that Congress cannot, by disapproval resolutions, alter the rights and duties of persons outside the Congress because that constitutes lawmaking requiring presidential participation.

Congress has used the withdrawal provisions of the War Powers Resolution three times.  In 1993, the House adopted a resolution directing the president to remove troops from Somalia by March 31, 1994.  In 1998 and 1999, the House rejected resolutions directing U.S. troop withdrawals from Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Yugoslavia, respectively.

U.S. Armed Forces in Pakistan:  Pakistan continues to be crucial to regional and global security.  It remains in the U.S. national interest to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies and ensure that they will have no safe havens from which to attack the American people.  Pakistan continues to be engaged in a tough fight against a complex insurgency.

The situation in Pakistan continues to be fragile.  In Pakistan, the government and people are increasingly seeing the insurgency operating from the tribal border areas as the most existential threat to their country.  Pakistani security forces have stepped up operations against insurgents in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)—retaking territory and making significant arrests, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s top military commander and a key aide to Mullah Omar. 

There are approximately 230 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, all assigned to Office of the Defense Representative to Pakistan (ODRP).  This small contingent is in Pakistan at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan to support security assistance programs and training to deepen our cooperative relationship with Pakistan.  U.S. government programs for Pakistan are open and transparent and function in partnership with the Government of Pakistan.  While force protection is always a concern, there is nothing secretive about U.S. special operations forces and DoD’s training efforts in Pakistan.  DoD officials have spoken publicly about the training program numerous times.

US Military Trainers in Pakistan:  All U.S. forces in Pakistan are there at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan to help their security forces develop their own training programs in counterinsurgency techniques.  The purpose of DoD training efforts in Pakistan is to assist, strengthen and enable Pakistan and its security forces in their fight against violent extremist organizations.  There are between 60 and 120 U.S. Special Operations forces trainers at any one time in Pakistan.  This is not a combat mission but rather a train and equip role for the U.S trainers in Pakistan.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office has not produced a score for this legislation as of press time.