The White House take is that the US ‘can act in Libya without Congress‘ because our current role is only supportive of NATO and does not fall under the War Powers Resolution. US involvement against Khadafi has so far consisted of participating in NATO air sorties on government buildings, tanks and ground troops.
But some members of Congress now say the President exceeded his authority because he did not obtain Congressional permission.
Congress last issued a formal declaration of war in World War II. Congress never even declared an authorization for the 1950 Korean War.
Actions since then have been covered under various resolutions and acts, but without formal declaration of war. Congress authorized extended military combat in Vietnam, perhaps not anticipating US involvement from 1961 to 1975. It was at this point Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, generally limiting the President to committing US forces over 60 days without Congressional approval or declared national emergency.
History will surely note that Congress did authorize the Bush-instigated war in Afghanistan in 2001, and the almost concurrent war in Iraq in 2003.
The US action in Libya was arguably our smallest foreign intervention since we helped elbow Aristide out of Haiti in 2004. But let no one say Congressional objections to the Libyan involvement are motivated by partisan politics.
If Congress in its infinite wisdom must carp about our minimal air support of the Libyan rebels’ Arab Spring, then perhaps the complainers should introduce a bill repudiating our cooperation with NATO effort to unseat Khadafi Duck. Authorize the action, produce a formal repudiation, or get off the pot.
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