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War PowersThe Politics of Constitutional Authority$
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Mariah Zeisberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157221

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157221.001.0001

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Legislative Investigations as War Power

Legislative Investigations as War Power

The Senate Munitions Investigation and Iran-Contra

Chapter:
(p.184) Chapter 5 Legislative Investigations as War Power
Source:
War Powers
Author(s):

Mariah Zeisberg

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691157221.003.0005

This chapter returns to Congress to scrutinize another legislative discretionary power, that of investigations. While the investigatory power is normally conceived as a retrospective power of judgment, it construes investigations as both a war power and as a forward-looking tool for developing legislative war authority. The chapter compares the Munitions Investigation of 1934–36 with the Iran-Contra Investigation of 1989, arguing that the former developed far more constitutional authority for the legislature and war-making system than did the latter. The reasons may be surprising: counterintuitively, it is argued that Congress' insufficiently developed partisanship undermined the authority of its Iran-Contra Investigation as a challenge to presidential power.

Keywords:   legislative investigation, Congress, investigatory power, Munitions Investigation, Iran-Contra Investigation, constitutional authority, partisanship

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