Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Antiwar Battleground in the House

GOP Pulls Libya War Powers Resolution
from the Floor Because it Might Pass

By Donny Shaw

June 1, 2011 - The House Republican leadership is worried that Congress might stand up to the Obama Administration and assert its constitutional prerogative as the only branch of government that can declare war. The House was scheduled to vote this afternoon on a a privileged resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] directing the President, pursuant to the War Powers Act, to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya. But the House leadership has pulled it from the floor because, according to Republican aides who spoke with Fox News, “it became clear that it might succeed.”

“[Republican leaders] hadn’t seen much of a threat from [the Kucinich bill]. He’s kind of this marginal figure and having his resolution go down narrowly would be no big deal and might even send a message to the administration,” said one of the Republican aides. “But once they saw that there was substantial support, they were like, ‘Whoa.’”

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, if a President authorizes military action without approval from Congress, they must terminate the action within 60 days unless they get specific approval from Congress, or unless there is a national emergency due to an attack on the U.S. In the case of Libya, the 60-day period has come and gone without any action from Congress, yet, in a direct violation of the law, U.S. military involvement in Libya continues. In fact, it has now been extended for another 90 days.

The Obama Administration argues that Libya is not a U.S. mission. It’s a NATO mission, they say. But as Kucinich points out in a letter to supporters of his resolution, the U.S. is still in charge. “The fact remains that we’re bombing another country and we pay, by far, the largest percentage of NATO’s military bills,” he says. “This is a war that we’re leading – and it’s a war that violates our Constitution and the War Powers Act.”

According to a new poll, the public seems to back Kucinich and his allies. When asked by CNN pollsters who should have final authority for deciding whether the U.S. should continue its use of military force in Libya — Congress or President Obama — 55% of respondents answered Congress.

House Republicans have been actively working to expand presidential war powers. They recently added language to the annual Defense authorization bill that expands presidential authority to use military force without consent from Congress against virtually anybody suspected of being a terrorist, anywhere in the world (including domestically), indefinitely. Obviously, the growing support for Kucinich’s resolution is a significant challenge to their unilateral-executive-war-power agenda. So, it’s been postponed, supposedly “in an effort to compel more information and consultation’ from the Administration,” but actually just to give the Republican leadership more time to twist arms.

Pictured above are U.S. special forces on the ground in Libya.

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