Congress calls Obama on Libya war

We had been blogging about how President Obama has been ignoring the War Powers Act in waging war in Libya without Congressional consent.  Now Congress has overwhelmingly struck back, with a bipartisan 3/4 of the House calling him on it:

Crossing party lines to deliver a stunning rebuke to the commander in chief, the vast majority of the House voted Friday for resolutions telling President Obama he has broken the constitutional chain of authority by committing U.S. troops to the international military mission in Libya.

In two votes — on competing resolutions that amounted to legislative lectures of Mr. Obama — Congress escalated the brewing constitutional clash over whether he ignored the founding document’s grant of war powers by sending U.S. troops to aid in enforcing a no-fly zone and naval blockade of Libya.

The resolutions were non-binding, and only one of them passed, but taken together, roughly three-quarters of the House voted to put Mr. Obama on notice that he must explain himself or else face future consequences, possibly including having funds for the war cut off.

“He has a chance to get this right. If he doesn’t, Congress will exercise its constitutional authority and make it right,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who wrote the resolution that passed, 268-145, and sets a two-week deadline for the president to deliver the information the House is seeking.

Minutes after approving Mr. Boehner’s measure, the House defeated an even more strongly-worded resolution offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, that would have insisted the president begin a withdrawal of troops.

Most lawmakers said that was too rash at this point, and said they wanted to give Mr. Obama time to comply. Some also said immediate withdrawal would leave U.S. allies in the lurch.

The Kucinich resolution failed 148-265. In a telling signal, 87 Republicans voted for Mr. Kucinich’s resolution — more than the 61 Democrats that did.

Still, taken together, 324 members of Congress voted for one resolution or both resolutions, including 91 Democrats, or nearly half the caucus. The size of the votes signals overwhelming discontent with Mr. Obama’s handling of the constitutional issues surrounding the Libya fight.

via Bipartisan Congress rebuffs Obama on Libya mission – Washington Times.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Kirk

    I’m actually fairly impressed with Congress. Asserting their legislative authority? Representing the will of their local constituencies? Sadly, it’s rare to see the Legislature actually checking the Executive. I hope voters see the value in this.

  • Kirk

    I’m actually fairly impressed with Congress. Asserting their legislative authority? Representing the will of their local constituencies? Sadly, it’s rare to see the Legislature actually checking the Executive. I hope voters see the value in this.

  • DonS

    No one has really been able to explain why we are in Libya, or what our mission is there. Supposedly, we are there to protect the civilians, and not to take sides, but somehow we keep bombing Ghaddafi’s compounds. Odd.

    Congress should have voted for Kucinich’s resolution, or threatened to, absent detailed briefings from the administration as to its plan for Libya. We should not be putting the lives of our troops in harms way for war actions not bearing directly on important U.S. interests. The constitutional mandate on both the administration and legislature is to fund and manage a military force to defend the United States. Not to police the world, or to intervene in a matter that is an interest for Europe. Let Europe do it, if it can, given the fact that European nations have pretty much disarmed knowing that we will cover their behinds.

    Regardless of how you feel about the War Powers Act, it is the law of the land, and one that the Democrats, including Obama, have insisted be observed by Republican administrations. A Democratic administration should not get a free pass to ignore that same law.

  • DonS

    No one has really been able to explain why we are in Libya, or what our mission is there. Supposedly, we are there to protect the civilians, and not to take sides, but somehow we keep bombing Ghaddafi’s compounds. Odd.

    Congress should have voted for Kucinich’s resolution, or threatened to, absent detailed briefings from the administration as to its plan for Libya. We should not be putting the lives of our troops in harms way for war actions not bearing directly on important U.S. interests. The constitutional mandate on both the administration and legislature is to fund and manage a military force to defend the United States. Not to police the world, or to intervene in a matter that is an interest for Europe. Let Europe do it, if it can, given the fact that European nations have pretty much disarmed knowing that we will cover their behinds.

    Regardless of how you feel about the War Powers Act, it is the law of the land, and one that the Democrats, including Obama, have insisted be observed by Republican administrations. A Democratic administration should not get a free pass to ignore that same law.

  • steve

    Kirk, #1: +1

    DonS, #2: The West wisely wants a stake in whatever the Middle East is going to look like after the uprisings. Ghaddafi is the one big thug everyone can agree must be defeated so it was probably not a bad choice to begin the him. On the other hand, Obama’s desire for involvement is probably much more personal. He got slapped down for not siding earlier or more decidedly with the popular “democratic” uprising in Egypt and when the tide turned in their favor, he wanted to be on the winning side of the next Egypt. Unfortunately, the shortsighted notion that you can dip your toes into a war, turn the tide, then back out, is woefully ignorant of history. People can say what they will about whether we should have been in Iraq, but Bush jumped in with both feet. And there’s no other way you can prosecute a war.

  • steve

    Kirk, #1: +1

    DonS, #2: The West wisely wants a stake in whatever the Middle East is going to look like after the uprisings. Ghaddafi is the one big thug everyone can agree must be defeated so it was probably not a bad choice to begin the him. On the other hand, Obama’s desire for involvement is probably much more personal. He got slapped down for not siding earlier or more decidedly with the popular “democratic” uprising in Egypt and when the tide turned in their favor, he wanted to be on the winning side of the next Egypt. Unfortunately, the shortsighted notion that you can dip your toes into a war, turn the tide, then back out, is woefully ignorant of history. People can say what they will about whether we should have been in Iraq, but Bush jumped in with both feet. And there’s no other way you can prosecute a war.

  • DonS

    Steve: If we are to be in Libya, it should be with a clearly defined mission and purpose, and one which, in particular, elucidates the specific U.S. interests we are defending. I don’t see that we have defined our mission at all, at least not in any kind of public way.

  • DonS

    Steve: If we are to be in Libya, it should be with a clearly defined mission and purpose, and one which, in particular, elucidates the specific U.S. interests we are defending. I don’t see that we have defined our mission at all, at least not in any kind of public way.

  • steve

    DonS, the the extent that it’s not publicly palatable to say we’re in Libya because we want a stake in the Arab Summer and Ghaddafi is the easiest target, I think you’re right.

  • steve

    DonS, the the extent that it’s not publicly palatable to say we’re in Libya because we want a stake in the Arab Summer and Ghaddafi is the easiest target, I think you’re right.

  • SKPeterson

    It should also be said that if this was a Republican president, that 98% of the Republicans voting for enforcement of the WPA in Libya this weekend would not have voted for this bill, while 98% of the Democrats opposed to restraining the President’s actions in Libya would have voted for this resolution if the same hypothetical Republican was in office.

    This vote was meaningless political posturing and says more about D.C. politics than it does about a supposedly responsible House seeking to assert the prerogatives of the Legislative branch vis-a-vis the Executive.

  • SKPeterson

    It should also be said that if this was a Republican president, that 98% of the Republicans voting for enforcement of the WPA in Libya this weekend would not have voted for this bill, while 98% of the Democrats opposed to restraining the President’s actions in Libya would have voted for this resolution if the same hypothetical Republican was in office.

    This vote was meaningless political posturing and says more about D.C. politics than it does about a supposedly responsible House seeking to assert the prerogatives of the Legislative branch vis-a-vis the Executive.

  • Joe

    “Congress should have voted for Kucinich’s resolution”

    Now there is a statement that we many never see from DonS again.

  • Joe

    “Congress should have voted for Kucinich’s resolution”

    Now there is a statement that we many never see from DonS again.

  • DonS

    Haha, Joe :-) No, probably not. But, I do have a great deal of respect for Kucinich’s integrity and consistency.

  • DonS

    Haha, Joe :-) No, probably not. But, I do have a great deal of respect for Kucinich’s integrity and consistency.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Did I miss something?

    Isn’t our mission just to assassinate Qaddafi?

    Historically such has been frowned upon, but it looks like that is what it all about. Seems silly really. Do we think some lovely benevolent dictator will succeed him? Or that the Libyans will suddenly be blessed with civic minded folks to be elected democratically?

    Will Qadaffi be murdered by France, Italy, or the US?

    Will Libya emerge a liberal western democracy or an islamic republic?

    Stay tuned for the next episode.

    Kucinich is an honest man.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Did I miss something?

    Isn’t our mission just to assassinate Qaddafi?

    Historically such has been frowned upon, but it looks like that is what it all about. Seems silly really. Do we think some lovely benevolent dictator will succeed him? Or that the Libyans will suddenly be blessed with civic minded folks to be elected democratically?

    Will Qadaffi be murdered by France, Italy, or the US?

    Will Libya emerge a liberal western democracy or an islamic republic?

    Stay tuned for the next episode.

    Kucinich is an honest man.

  • Pingback: Obama your time in Libya is up! « The STR

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