By Times staff reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001
The War Powers Act, passed in 1973, states that the president must inform Congress within 48 hours if any troops are sent to a hostile area without a declaration of war. It imposes a limit of 90 days on the power of the president to keep troops in combat without a specific congressional authorization.
It was first invoked in 1975 when U.S. troops retook the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez from Cambodian forces in the Gulf of Siam. Since 1983, American troops have been sent to Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans under this act.