Leahy, Specter query White House over Congress's war powers

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) are asking the Bush administration for its views on congressional authority with respect to war.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday asked for the administration's views on this issue, which the lawmakers say is part of the debate over sending additional troops to Iraq.

"What constitutional authority do you recognize resides with the Congress with respect to war?" Leahy and Specter asked. "How do you believe Congress can exercise its authorities? What limits do you believe exist on these authorities?"

Leahy, in a hearing on the issue today, said the Constitution gives Congress extensive authority with regard to war, compared to the president's role as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."

The Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights is holding a hearing Tuesday on Congress's power to end a war.

- Klaus Marre