ISSUE #8 – April 2022

Should Congress Have Greater Power over Use of Military Force & Arms Sales?

An innovative survey conducted by UMD’s Program for Public Consultation found that bipartisan majorities favor several legislative proposals giving Congress greater authority over the use of military force and arms sales, as well as repealing the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), passed after the 9/11 attacks, which has been the primary basis for the uses of military force since then. 

Currently, according to the War Powers Act, if the president initiates the use of military force, after 60 days, Congress can vote to stop it. However, the president can veto the stoppage, which would require Congress to muster a supermajority to override the veto.

Bipartisan majorities support legislative proposals that automatically cut-off funding for a military operation initiated by the president after 60 days unless Congress acts to approve it. Congress could effectively stop an operation with a simple majority. After being briefed on the proposals and evaluating arguments pro and con, 58% favor an automatic funding cut-off after 60 days unless Congress acts. This garners support from 53% of Republicans, 62% of Democrats, and 58% of independents.

Similarly, bipartisan majorities (61%, Republicans 56%, Democrats 68%, independents 61%) favor requiring that Congress actively approve arms sales over $14 million, giving Congress the power to stop arms sales with a simple majority not subject to a presidential veto. 

Consistent with the general support for a greater Congressional role, bipartisan majorities favor repealing the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which gave the president the authority to use military force against anyone involved in the attacks or any organization that helped those involved. All in all, nearly six-in-ten voters (59%) favor repealing the 2001 AUMF, including 65% of Democrats, 52% of Republicans, and 63% of independents. Read more about this survey in coverage from Jim Lobe of Responsible Statecraft.

Our Op-Ed in USA Today on the Vast Common Ground of the American People 

Last week on the eve of the National Week of Conversation, our President, Steven Kull, and the Director for the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford, Jim Fishkin, penned an op-ed in USA Today.  It highlights how the American people are less polarized than Congress and how public consultation offers a way to improve representatives’ understanding of their constituents and allow them to find more common ground when creating policy.

Congressional War Powers

Policymaking Simulation: Put yourself in the shoes of policymakers by trying our policymaking simulation on whether Congress should have greater power over the use of American military force and arms sales. In this simulation, you’ll get a briefing on the issue, learn the arguments for and against giving Congress a greater role, and determine your policy recommendations. Once you finish the simulation, you’ll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople.

Ohio Citizens’ Jury Petition

This past year, a group of citizens in Ohio dissatisfied with their state government have started a petition to give the public a greater voice in their government. Their method of choice is called a Citizens’ Jury, which would be composed of a random selection of Ohio citizens who would deliberate on key proposals before Ohio’s legislature. They point to democratic innovations such as the Citizens Assemblies in Ireland as a model for positive change. 

Specifically, the petition proposes an amendment to Ohio’s constitution that would allow state legislators, when they can not agree on a piece of legislation, to convene a Citizens’ Jury to consider whether to or not to pass it. These Citizens’ Juries would consist of 150 people selected at random. After the jury is convened, legislators from both sides would make their case to the jury, with equal time given to those who are for and against the bill. The Jury would then deliberate, and if 60% of the jurors approve the legislation, it passes and becomes law. If the bill does not get 60%, then it fails and will not be taken up for a vote.

Voice of the People has identified more than 172 positions on which Democrats and Republicans agree. Find out more at