This week, the House begins debate on a defense spending bill that would authorize the president to attack al-Qaida and its associates all over the world.
Supporters say the measure would give the U.S. more leeway to fight terrorists after the death of Osama bin Laden. But critics worry that it hands the White House too much power.
The last time Congress waded into this debate was September 2001, a week after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Lawmakers passed an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against the people who planned those attacks and the countries that harbored them; it didn’t mention al-Qaida.