June 3, 2011
The House on Friday rebuked President Obama for failing “to provide Congress with a compelling rationale” for the military campaign in Libya, but stopped short of demanding he withdraw U.S. forces from the fight.
By a vote of 257 to 156, the House approved a resolution that criticized Obama for not seeking congressional authorization for the 76-day-old campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
The resolution would give Obama 14 more days to convince Congress the attacks against Gaddafi are justified by U.S. interests.
The House rejected, by a vote of 148 to 265, a more drastic measure from one of the fixtures of anti-war sentiment in the House, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio). That resolution would have demanded Obama pull out of the Libyan operation within 15 days.
With those votes, the House stepped back from a confrontation over how America goes to war.
But perhaps only temporarily.
On Friday, legislators from both parties said they might try more stringent measures if Obama does not make his case in the next two weeks. Their options include cutting funding for the operation, or voting formally to “disapprove” of the war.
“This resolution puts the president on notice. He has a chance to get this right,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the author of the resolution that passed. “If he doesn’t … we will make it right.”
Obama ordered U.S. forces to join the international operation against Gaddafi on March 19. The operation is now led by NATO, but it relies heavily on American forces for logistics, intelligence and some air sorties. There are no U.S. troops on the ground in Libya.
So far, the campaign has failed to dislodge Gaddafi. But it has done something rare on Capitol Hill: It has angered legislators so much that they considered sticking their nose in the middle of an ongoing military campaign.
“This is not the king’s army,” Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said during the House’s debate Friday. “This is an unconstitutional and illegal war. And I think it sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Many legislators said they were concerned that Obama had missed a deadline set by the 1973 War Powers Resolution. That Nixon-era law requires presidents to obtain Congressional authorization for a foreign military operation within 60 days — or withdraw.
Last month, the 60-day deadline came and went. Obama did neither.
White House officials have said their operation is legal and point out that they are regularly consulting with members of Congress.
Read more at the Washington Post.