The Post wrote that if President Bush had complied with the War Powers Resolution, American troops in Saudi Arabia would be packing their bags for home by now {"The 60-Day Clock," editorial, Oct. 9}. The resolution requires the president to withdraw U.S. troops from hostile situations after 60 to 90 days unless Congress approves their continued use.

The Post called the law's automatic withdrawal provision a "fatal flaw." I disagree.

The fatal flaw of the War Powers Resolution is its implicit grant of war-making power to the president. The resolution allows the president to introduce American forces into hostilities for up to 90 days, for any reason whatsoever.

The Post extolled a bill introduced by the Senate leadership to amend the War Powers Resolution. The Senate bill would essentially repeal the current law and replace it with an executive-legislative consultative group. The new consultative body would substitute its judgment in matters of war and peace for that of the Congress as a whole.

The Post believes such a group would avoid "the clutter of constitutional confrontation."

We saw how well that worked in the recent deadlock of the federal budget. But beside being impractical, such quasi-legislative bodies are a perversion of the constitutional scheme. The clutter that the budget summit sought to avoid is precisely the system of checks and balances that underpins the U.S. Constitution.

I've introduced legislation to amend the War Powers Resolution that relies on the constitutional scheme, using the 1973 Senate version of the resolution as a model. It lays out the conditions under which the president can, on his own authority, introduce U.S. armed forces in hostilities. It also gives members of Congress standing to bring suit in federal court if the president violates any of its provisions.

Congress should not be required to pass a law, over a near-certain presidential veto, to stop a war that the president had no constitutional authority to begin in the first place.

In the absence of an effective War Powers Resolution, I can only pray that if President Bush chooses to go to war against Iraq after the congressional recess, he will call Congress into session and ask for a normal declaration of war. Any other course of action invites a national crisis that we can ill afford. PETER DeFAZIO U.S. Representative (D-Ore.) Washington