In his official notice to Congress that he had unilaterally sent American soldiers into the Libyan war kinetic action, Barack Obama wrote, “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.” Today, he decided the War Powers Resolution is also disposable. In a letter to Congress today Obama declared America’s role in the Libyan civil war is so “limited” that he does not need Congressional authorization, as that law requires. He then asked their support for a measure John Boehner had not even seen. The move is the most recent of a string of Obama actions that bypass Congress to implement his agenda.
The War Powers Resolution allows the president to introduce troops into war for 60 days before either seeking Congressional approval or beginning a 30-day withdrawal.
Those 60 days ended today. However, Congress adjourned this afternoon without providing authorization.
Obama has made clear our troops are staying in the middle of a losing civil war no matter what the members of Congress – or the people who elected them – think.
Only as Congress was ready to adjourn did Obama send a letter to the leaders of both houses supporting a resolution in favor of the war. The measure drafted by Sens. John Kerry, John McCain, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman.
Obama wrote passing the resolution would “underline the U.S. commitment” to this “remarkable” action. As an afterthought, he added it would be “important in the context of our constitutional framework” – not because it is a legal requisite imposed by constitution and statute – but because “it would demonstrate a unity of purpose among the political branches.” If there is a division, the implication is that Obama would continue without such “unity.”
At least one Congressional leader said he had not yet seen the resolution, much less had it been approved. A spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner, Michael Steel, told the L.A. Times, “We received the president’s letter but have yet to see the draft resolution it mentions.”
The president concluded the letter with his traditional audacious lie: “It has always been my view that it is better to take military action, even in limited actions such as this, with Congressional engagement, consultation, and support.”
Obama has similarly lied to Congress by proxy. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg recently told legislators Obama had always “been mindful of the provisions of the War Powers Resolution. He has acted in a manner consistent with it. He will continue to do so.” On Friday, Obama proved this statement is a lie. (If Congress cannot summon the courage to hold Obama accountable, can they at least force out Steinberg?)
The administration’s allies have been remarkably open about why they did not wish to bring a resolution to the floor: It will not pass. Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, admitted, “I’m not inclined to try to put forth a resolution because I think it just won’t accomplish what I want to, which is to provide, basically, support.” He added allowing Congress to vote on this war “kind of opens up issues that frankly I don’t think end up being helpful to what I think is the right position, which is to basically continue on the course that we’re on.” For once, Levin’s calculations are right on. Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who opposes the intervention, has stated, “it is uncertain whether majorities could be assembled for any particular resolution.”
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