The White House affirmed Wednesday that President Barack Obama had the authority to continue the military campaign without congressional approval because U.S. involvement fell short of full-blown hostilities. The White House sent a 38-page report to lawmakers, describing and defending the NATO-led operation.
The White House also said that the mission in Libya was aimed at loosing Moammar Gadhafi’s grip on power. The report contended that the limited U.S. role did not oblige the administration to ask for authorization under the War Powers Resolution, asserted that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”
Raising the pressure on President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio sent a letter to Obama reproaching him that he appeared to be out of time under the Vietnam-era law that says presidents must terminate a mission 60 or 90 days after notifying Congress that troops have been deployed into hostilities, unless lawmakers authorize the operation to continue.
Boehner had demanded that Obama explain his legal justification for passing the deadline. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner, said Wednesday he was still reviewing the documents. He added that “the creative arguments made by the White House raise a number of questions that must be further explored.”
“Where in the world is Congress when an administration decides we want to bomb a country? For goodness sake, there’s a Constitution!” says Congressman Jones, in a phone interview. “I think those who drafted the Constitution would probably be standing with us today and applaud the action we’re taking,” he adds.
10 House members, led by Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio and Walter Jones (R) of North Carolina, filed suit in a federal court challenging the authorization of US operations in Libya.
Nevertheless, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week delayed a bipartisan resolution expressing support for a limited intervention in Libya so as to give senators time to consider the new White House report. The resolution is sponsored by committee chairman John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
In a report, the White House said that it had “repeatedly indicated its strong support” for this resolution, “that would confirm that both branches are united in their commitment to supporting the aspirations of the Libyan people for political reform and self-government.”
In its report the White House also said the U.S. has spent $716 million through June 3 on bombs and other supplies since helping launch the allied air campaign on March 19, a cost expected to rise to $1.1 billion by Sept. 30. Aides said the money would come from other appropriated funds and would not require a new appropriation from Congress this year.[via The Huff Post, The NY Times and The Christian Science]