Filipino activists burn a mock U.S. flag during a rally in Manila, Philippines, on Monday, March 21, 2011. The group is condemning the bombings against Libya by the United States, Europe and other countries. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
House scolds Obama on Libya
The House voted Friday to rebuke President Obama for continuing to maintain a U.S. role in NATO operations in Libya without the express consent of Congress and directed the administration to provide detailed information about the cost and objectives of the U.S. role in the conflict
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The House voted Friday to rebuke President Obama for continuing to maintain a U.S. role in NATO operations in Libya without the express consent of Congress and directed the administration to provide detailed information about the cost and objectives of the U.S. role in the conflict.
The resolution, which passed 268-145, was offered by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to siphon off swelling Republican support for a measure sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, which called for a withdrawal of the U.S. military from the air and naval operations in and around Libya within 15 days.
The resolution criticizing the president passed with the support of 45 Democrats and all but 10 of the Republicans who were present. The measure from Kucinich, one of the most liberal members of the House, failed by 148-265, with 87 Republicans voting in favor.
As a legislative matter, Boehner's resolution has no practical effect. A decision by the Supreme Court more than two decades ago suggested that Congress is not empowered to enforce a resolution or other directive that, unlike a bill, the president has no chance to veto.
But as a political matter, the resolution is an unusually blunt confrontation with a president during a military conflict, and it underscores a bipartisan distaste among members of Congress for attempts to bypass their authority when waging war. Overall, roughly two-thirds of the House members who voted Friday backed one or two measures disapproving of the president's actions. (Kucinich voted for both.)
Boehner's resolution demands that the administration provide, within 14 days, detailed information about the nature, cost and objectives of the U.S. contribution to the NATO operation, as well as an explanation of why the administration did not come to Congress for permission to continue to take part in the mission. The language suggests the House may consider funding requests for the Libya operation in a harsh light if not satisfied with the response to its requests for information.
The issue is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, which seems to be taking the opposite tack. Last month, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., both military veterans, introduced a resolution to express support for the Libyan mission.
The roughly two-hour debate Friday concerning both resolutions provided some interesting alliances among far-left and hard-right lawmakers, and a bit of a role reversal in the discussion of executive power and the relevance of Libya to America's vital interests.
"It seems the running shoe is on the other foot," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., noting that Republicans had accused Democrats of "cutting and running" on military operations in the past. Rep. James Moran, D-Va., chided Republicans, saying "to tie the president's hands is inconsistent with the legacy of this body, which is to do what is necessary to protect American interests."
In contrast, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., who voted for both measures, said: "We're not going to go to war without the people of this country supporting it."
Obama ordered airstrikes in March after a U.N. resolution and limited consultation with Congress. The Constitution says Congress has the power to declare war, and the 1973 War Powers Resolution requires the president to obtain congressional authorization within 60 days of the start of military operations, a deadline that passed last month.
The United States is providing NATO with intelligence, logistical support and armed drones in what is largely a bombing campaign against Libyan government forces.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.