US Congress conflicted on Libya military campaign
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives delivered a mixed message on America’s role in the NATO-led Libya campaign today, opposing a resolution expressing support for the war while also voting down a bill restricting American involvement in the conflict.
In short, the House appeared unable to speak with clarity on President Barack Obama’s controversial effort to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Much of the House’s disapproval of the Libya campaign has been fueled by a belief that Obama failed to sufficiently consult with Congress before committing to military engagement.
Specifically, representatives from both political parties say the administration has violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which gives the president 60 days to get congressional approval for sending U.S. forces to war, followed by a 30-day extension to end hostilities. The combined 90-day period ended last Sunday.
Support for the war has also been further shaken by evidence of civilian deaths caused by recent NATO airstrikes.
The White House says Obama didn’t need congressional authorization because U.S. forces are playing only a supporting role in Libya and haven’t engaged in what the law defines as hostilities. The president, however, personally overruled contrary legal opinions put forward by both the Pentagon and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, according to a report published Saturday in The New York Times.
Boehner said during Friday’s debate on the House floor that Obama’s authority under the Constitution “does not free the president from accountability to the American people, this Congress or the rule of law.” The War Powers Resolution “is the law of the land and simply cannot be ignored,” he said.
In a recent report on the mission, the administration said the cost of military and humanitarian operations through June 3 was about $800 million. It estimated the total cost through September 30 would be $1.1 billion.