View Full Version : Nat'l Security House rejects measure to continue US role in Libya

06-24-2011, 11:02 AM
WASHINGTON The House has voted down a measure giving President Barack Obama the authority to continue the U.S. military action against Libya.

The vote was 295-123 on Friday. The congressional action has no immediate effect on American involvement but represents a repudiation of the commander in chief.

The vote marks the first time since 1999 that either House has voted against a military operation. The last time was over President Bill Clinton's authority in the Bosnian war.

House Republican leaders pushed for the vote, with rank-and-file members saying the president broke the law by failing to seek congressional approval for the 3-month-old war. Some Democrats accused the GOP of playing politics with national security.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]

Challenging President Barack Obama's authority as commander in chief, the House pushed toward votes Friday on the U.S. military involvement in Libya, weighing competing measures to continue the operation or cut off funds for military attacks.

"We have drifted into an apparently open-ended commitment with goals vaguely defined," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, as Democrats and Republicans criticized the mission and Obama's treatment of Congress.

"What? We don't have enough wars going on," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio., asked mockingly. "We need one more war. We have to wage war against another nation that didn't attack us."

The House was scheduled to vote on dueling legislation: a resolution giving Obama limited authority to continue the American involvement in the NATO-led operation against Moammar Gadhafi's forces and a bill to cut off funds for U.S. military attacks there.

The resolution mirrors a Senate measure sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that Obama has indicated he would welcome. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the resolution on Tuesday.

The bill to cut off funds would make an exception for search and rescue efforts, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, aerial refueling and operational planning to continue the NATO effort in Libya. It has no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"The president has ignored the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, but he cannot ignore a lack of funding," said Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., sponsor of the bill. "Only Congress has the power to declare war and the power of the purse, and my bill exercises both of those powers by blocking funds for the war in Libya unless the president receives congressional authorization."

House Republicans and Democrats are furious with Obama for failing to seek congressional authorization for the 3-month-old war against Gadhafi, as required under the War Powers Resolution. The 1973 law, often ignored by Republican and Democratic presidents, says the commander in chief must seek congressional consent for military actions within 60 days. That deadline has long passed.

Obama stirred congressional unrest last week when he told lawmakers he didn't need authorization because the operation was not full-blown hostilities. NATO commands the Libya operation, but the United States still plays a significant support role that includes aerial refueling of warplanes and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance work as well as drone attacks and bombings.

A New York Times report that said Obama overruled some of his legal advisers further incensed members of Congress.

In a repudiation of the president, a coalition of anti-war Democrats and tea party-backed Republicans was expected to defeat the resolution that would give Obama authority for the operation. The fate of the legislation to cut off funds was uncertain.

In a last-ditch effort Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with rank-and-file Democrats to explain the mission and discuss the implications if the House votes to cut off funds. The administration requested the closed-door meeting.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., said Clinton apologized for not coming to Congress earlier. But he said she warned about the implications of a House vote to cut off money.

"The secretary expressed her deep concern that you're probably not on the right track when Gadhafi supports your efforts," Walz said.

Rep. Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said such a vote "ensures the failure of the whole mission."

Earlier this week Clinton said lawmakers were free to raise questions, but she asked, "Are you on Gadhafi's side, or are you on the side on the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been bringing them support?"

In the Senate, backers of a resolution to authorize the operation wondered whether the administration had waited too long to address the concerns of House members.

"It's way late," said McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "This is one of the reasons why they're having this veritable uprising in the House, because of a lack of communication. And then the icing on the cake was probably for them when he (Obama) said that we're not engaged in hostilities. That obviously is foolishness."

He added, however, "That is not a reason to pass a resolution that would encourage Moammar Gadhafi to stay in power."

Earlier this month, the House voted 268-145 to rebuke Obama for failing to provide a "compelling rationale" for the Libyan mission and for launching U.S. military forces without congressional approval.


06-24-2011, 11:04 AM
President 'becoming an absolute monarch' on war powers, Dem says

A House Democrat warned Friday that the U.S. president is becoming an "absolute monarch" on matters related to the authority to start a war.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Congress must act to limit funding for military operations in Libya in order to correct that trend.

"We have been sliding for 70 years to a situation where Congress has nothing to do with the decision about whether to go to war or not, and the president is becoming an absolute monarch," Nadler said on the floor. "And we must put a stop to that right now, if we don't want to become an empire instead of a republic."

Nadler stressed that he is not talking exclusively about "this president," meaning President Obama. But he said nonetheless that Congress needs to reassert its authority to declare war, and said this should be done even over concerns that it would damage U.S. credibility with its NATO allies.

"I think that the nation's credibility, that is to say its promise to go to war as backed by the president, not by the Congress, ought to be damaged," he said.

"And if foreign countries learn that they cannot depend on American military intervention unless Congress is aboard for the ride, good," he added. "That's a good thing."

Members of the House early Friday morning were debating a rule allowing for consideration of H.J.Res. 68, which would authorize continued operations in Libya, and H.R. 2278, which would limit funding for those operations.

Members of Congress have been clashing with the White House over the Libya mission. Many Republicans and some Democrats argue that President Obama does not have the authority to continue involving the U.S. in the NATO-led mission without congressional authorization.

The White House argues the U.S. role in Libya does not constitute "hostilities" and is therefore not covered under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to seek authorization from Congress 60 days after notifying lawmakers of a military action.

H.R. 2278 is seen as tough and is expected to pass. However, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) stressed repeatedly that the exceptions in H.R. 2278 would essentially allow the U.S. military to continue the operations it is already involved in, and recommended a vote against both bills.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, said in the debate that it is "shameful" the way House Republicans have rushed through both bills. She said much more debate was allowed decades earlier when Congress considered launching the Persian Gulf War, and even apologized to future generations for the rushed consideration regarding Libya.

"We avoid the robust debates that preceded us here today," she said. "Indeed, the way in which today's measures are being debated shames the dignity, history and tradition of this body.

"I really regret the shameful way this important debate has been rushed through Congress and I apologize to future generations who will look back on the work that we are doing today to try to understand the time," she added.


06-24-2011, 12:14 PM
I personally don't have a strong opinion on this, but I just read something pretty surprising and thought I'd pass it along; a scathing editorial from the conservative columnist Kim Strassel at the Wall Street Journal:

The GOP's War Powers Opportunism

This week should have been Barack Obama's moment under the national-security klieg lights, a time for the nation to wonder about a commander in chief who would precipitously end his own Afghanistan surge, and who once again has failed to explain a half-hearted strategy in Libya.

But what fun is there in criticizing Democrats on national security when the GOP is offering up a much more embarrassing spectacle? In their rush to score points on the president, what congressional Republicans have actually managed to do is hurt themselves. They've highlighted their own divisions and given voters reason to question whether the party is throwing over principle in favor of political opportunism or, more worrisome, a new form of GOP isolationism.

In the space of a few months, Republicans have gone from coherently criticizing Mr. Obama's timid approach to the Arab awakening, to a few weeks ago incoherently losing 87 members to antiwar Democrat Dennis Kucinich's resolution to end military engagement in Libya. This caused an open rift in the party, compelling Sen. John McCain to stand up for U.S. victory and sponsor a resolution giving Mr. Obama freedom of action for another year.

House Republicans have very publicly let it be known that they intend to hold a vote on Mr. McCain's resolution—solely so that they can very publicly vote him down. Not satisfied that this is an ample enough rebuke to those who would win a war, the GOP is now working to pass legislation to defund the president's Libya mission. That's right, House Republicans (not House Democrats) intend to kneecap a commander in chief.

How has the GOP come to this pass? It began, in fairness, with genuine frustration with a president who failed to consult Congress prior to hostilities (a courtesy that would have won him friends) and has largely refused to answer congressional questions (a snub that made him outright opponents). Mr. Obama's meek deferral to NATO and the United Nations and his failure to make his case to the American public have made it hard for Republicans to explain or defend Libya to their own constituents.

Yet rather than pressure the president to do Libya right, the GOP reflex has been to use his mistakes as an excuse for their own. House leaders are of the view that failing to take action against the president is the equivalent of letting him "get away" with his snubs and bad policy and to "win" on this issue. The only real winner of a Libya withdrawal is, of course, a terrorist named Moammar Gadhafi. But try telling that to a GOP that has come full circle to congressional Democrats, circa 2006, who masked their ambitions to undermine President Bush behind lofty arguments of Iraq "oversight."

Speaking of 2006, some of this is also the consequence of a party with no obvious leader. Mr. Bush kept his caucus (barely) on Iraq only by constantly reminding members of the stakes. Those GOP candidates who would follow Mr. Bush have been mostly craven on Libya and Afghanistan, with Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann more worried about winning the next public-opinion poll than winning a war. House Speaker John Boehner remains reluctant to openly engage his excitable freshmen. Rather than lead on Libya, his default has been to try to make the best of a fractious GOP—for instance, by offering up a less-bad version of the Kucinich resolution.

To the extent there is political pressure, it comes from the tea party, which has no interest in foreign policy but is instead focused on spending and federal powers. This has helped to drive the growing group of self-described constitutionalists and war-deficit-hawks who are giving rise to a new brand of Republican isolationism.

The prevailing antigovernment feeling has allowed folks like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to spin the Libya mission as some sort of affront to the Constitution, since Mr. Obama failed to beg Congress's approval for Libya, as required by the 1973 War Powers Act. Never mind that conservative scholars will point out that it is the War Powers Act itself that is unconstitutional. That used to be the general GOP view, but with "Obama violated the Constitution" making for such a delicious sound bite among base voters, Republicans are willing to forget the past.

Never mind too that some of the very Republicans now complaining that it "costs" too much to be in Libya, or Afghanistan, are the same states-rights Republicans who like to argue that the federal government is constitutionally constrained to funding only a few items. You know, like national security. The GOP's obsessive focus on deficits has already risked losing it the upper hand on the growth-and-jobs argument. Its accountant mentality now risks costing it a clear view on defense.

It risks far more. Mr. Boehner said this week he didn't want to do anything to "undermine NATO," but the mere passage of the Republican resolutions will do just that. The GOP can then share responsibility with Mr. Obama for losing in Libya and emboldening a tin-pot dictator. How's that for an electoral pitch?

06-24-2011, 12:24 PM
Obama getting blasted by liberals, House GOP getting blasted by conservatives, its political theater at its best.

The Mad Crapper
06-24-2011, 01:06 PM
So what? Barry is a dictator he can do whatever he wants.

06-25-2011, 01:08 AM
it is a mystery how a country of 7 million with no functioning air force and an army so shithouse they got to hire mercenaries is still run by that Qaddafi dude. You got the entire west supplying these clowns with an air force and they can't use a fucking screwdriver by the look of it. Even threatened to down tools if we didn't cough up some more funds. But these kind of wars are the best wars, they supply endless lol. The Italians said basta and want a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons of all things, while everyone else is saying they're out of ammo, while good ol Qaddafi plays chess on TV with the president of World Chess Federation. I hope he lives forever, only so the place doesn't become the Islamic Republic of Libya.

06-25-2011, 01:21 AM
Useless and stupid political theater.

The war powers act is unconstitutional. A declaration of war does not mean very much except to the extent that you can or cant prosecute someone for sedition. The president of the united states is the commander in chief and can do whatever the hell he wants with the military outside the US, limited only by funding from congress. Since the congress has chosen to fully fund libya, they have given silent tacit approval while publicly wagging their fingers in the hope of getting votes.

06-25-2011, 01:24 AM
So what? Barry is a dictator he can do whatever he wants.

Congress still decided to fund Libya. So, they approved of Obama's action, while trying to eat their cake too by saying they disapprove (while not doing a damned thing to stop him)