This Day in the Law
October 25

President Richard Nixon Vetoes War Powers Resolution (1973)

On October 25, 1973, President Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, vetoed the War Powers Resolution. The War Powers Resolution was a joint resolution created by the U.S. Congress that, if approved, would limit the president’s power to send armed forces abroad without Congressional approval.

So, what exactly is a presidential veto? When a bill has been passed by both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, it is submitted to the president for his or her approval. Both bills and joint resolutions need to be approved by the president prior to becoming law. (The only circumstance under which a presidential signature is not needed is when a bill is proposing to amend the U.S. Constitution. In that scenario, it is sent to the states for ratification after Congress has approved it.) Even though the president’s signature is required, Congress does have the ability to override a presidential veto, but this is a tool that is rarely used in the realm of U.S. politics.

The War Powers Resolution was introduced by a Senator from the state of New York. The bill required the president to report to Congress within 48 hours after the president committed armed forces into war abroad. The bill also limited the time that armed forces could stay abroad without the approval of Congress (60 days).

Clearly, this joint resolution was a Congressional endeavor to regain control of the authority to make war. President Nixon labeled the bill as an unconstitutional attempt to restrict presidential authority. Despite the fact that President Nixon vetoed the bill on October 25, 1973, the U.S. Congress was able to override the veto to pass it into law on November 7 of that same year.