The Tet Offensive and the Media
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Tonkin Gulf Resolution (1964)

Apart from annual military appropriations, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964 was the closest the U.S. Congress came to endorsing American participation in the Vietnam War. Unlike previous resolutions, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Congress passed on August 7, 1964, did not require Congress to authorize presidential action, but only to "approve and support" any actions that the president found necessary. That change in wording indicated a shift in Congress' role during wartime. No longer the ultimate authority, Congress was to provide only subordinate support to the chief executive. Congress repealed the resolution on January 2, 1971, and concern about the Vietnam conflict and congressional war powers in general eventually led to the passage of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which limited the president's authority to conduct war without Congress' active participation.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.

Section 2. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. Consonant with the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with its obligations under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.

Section 3. This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, except that it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress.

 

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