Over the course of American history, Congress has formally enacted 11 declarations of war, as well as a similar number of statutory authorizations for the use of military force.
The differences between these two categories of legislative action, which are quite distinct, are detailed in a Congressional Research Service report that was updated earlier this year. See Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications, January 11, 2013.
As Congress weighs its response to an Obama Administration request to authorize the use of military force in Syria, another newly updated CRS report provides background on Armed Conflict in Syria: U.S. and International Response, September 6, 2013.
The 52 American diplomatic and military personnel who were taken hostage in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 have been unsuccessful in their attempts to recover financial damages from the Government of Iran, but they are still trying. A new CRS report refreshes the story. See The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation, September 5, 2013.
Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from direct public access include the following.
Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Statutes, September 9, 2013