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Dealing WIth Libya

June 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

House Republicans have finally decided on how to deal with the growing discontent over that pesky, probably unconstitutional war in Libya. They’re going to put the Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] withdrawal resolution that they pulled from the floor earlier in the week because it might have passed back on the calendar for a vote Friday. But they’re also going to hold a vote on a new, non-binding resolution, from Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], that criticizes that Obama for not go through the proper channels in authorizing the war and requiring him to provide Congress with detailed info about the rationale behind getting involved. The strategy: give anti-war and constitutionalist Reps. something meaningful to vote for, but also give middle-of-the-road Reps. a way to allow Obama to continue his war but still be able to tell their constituents that they voted against it.

Boehner says that Heritage Foundation says that if Congress took action to defend its constitutional role as the sole war-declaring power, our allies in Afghanistan would be upset. According to ABC, he quoted this Heritage argument in a GOP conference meeting on Thursday to rally support for his resolution:

Any action by Congress must have due regard for U.S. responsibilities to its allies. It would be completely irresponsible of the U.S. to presumptively withdraw support from allies that are in harm’s way. Many NATO nations stood, fought, and died with American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing should be done to suggest that America would precipitously abandon its allies.

Boehner’s resolution, which you can read in full here, is coming to the floor in direct violation of the House’s rule against rushing bills to votes. The rule, which is itself a bastardization of a tougher campaign pledge to make all bills available to the public for at least 72 hours before votes, states that bills must be online for at least three calendar days before they can be voted on. Theoretically, that means that a bill could be published at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday night and be voted on at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning, after being available to the public for just 24 hours and change. The Boehner resolution is timestamped at 4:33 p.m. on Thursday and it is scheduled to be voted on about 18 hours later, between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Friday.

UPDATE: Apparently the three-calendar-day rule put in place by the Republicans at th ebeginning of this session only applies to bills (i.e. H.R.’s) and joint resolutions. The Boehner resolution is in the form of a simple resolution. Another loophole allowing legislation to be advanced before getting a reasonable public review period.

Since this is being rushed to a vote so quickly, I’m copying the entire text below for you to review.

RESOLUTION

Declaring that the President shall not deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya, and for other purposes.

Resolved

SECTION 1. STATEMENTS OF POLICY.

The House of Representatives makes the following statements of policy:

(1) The United States Armed Forces shall be used exclusively to defend and advance the national security interests of the United States.

(2) The President has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya.

(3) The President shall not deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is to rescue a member of the Armed Forces in imminent danger.

SEC. 2. TRANSMITTAL OF EXECUTIVE BRANCH INFORMATION RELATING TO OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN AND OPERATION UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

The House of Representatives directs the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General, respectively, to transmit to the House of Representatives, not later than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution, copies of any official document, record, memo, correspondence, or other communication in the possession of each officer that was created on or after February 15, 2011, and refers or relates to—

(1) consultation or communication with Congress regarding the employment or deployment of the United States Armed Forces for Operation Odyssey Dawn or NATO Operation Unified Protector; or

(2) the War Powers Resolution and Operation Odyssey Dawn or Operation Unified Protector.

SEC. 3. REPORT TO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

(a) CONTENTS.—Not later than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution, the President shall transmit to Congress a report describing in detail United States security interests and objectives, and the activities of United States Armed Forces, in Libya since March 19, 2011, including a description of the following:

(1) The President’s justification for not seeking authorization by Congress for the use of military force in Libya.

(2) United States political and military objectives regarding Libya, including the relationship between the intended objectives and the operational means being employed to achieve them.

(3) Changes in United States political and military objectives following the assumption of command by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

(4) Differences between United States political and military objectives regarding Libya and those of other NATO member states engaged in military activities.

(5) The specific commitments by the United States to ongoing NATO activities regarding Libya.

(6) The anticipated scope and duration of continued United States military involvement in support of NATO activities regarding Libya.

(7) The costs of United States military, political, and humanitarian efforts concerning Libya as of June 3, 2011.

(8) The total projected costs of United States military, political, and humanitarian efforts concerning Libya.

(9) The impact on United States activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(10) The role of the United States in the establishment of a political structure to succeed the current Libyan regime.

(11) An assessment of the current military capacity of opposition forces in Libya.

(12) An assessment of the ability of opposition forces in Libya to establish effective military and political control of Libya and a practicable timetable for accomplishing these objectives.

(13) An assessment of the consequences of a cessation of United States military activities on the viability of continued NATO operations regarding Libya and on the continued viability of groups opposing the Libyan regime.

(14) The composition and political agenda of the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) and its representation of the views of the Libyan people as a whole.

(15) The criteria to be used to determine United States recognition of the ITNC as the representative of the Libyan people, including the role of current and former members of the existing regime.

(16) Financial resources currently available to opposition groups and United States plans to facilitate their access to seized assets of the Libyan regime and proceeds from the sale of Libyan petroleum.

(17) The relationship between the ITNC and the Muslim Brotherhood, the members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and any other group that has promoted an agenda that would negatively impact United States interests.

(18) Weapons acquired for use, and operations initiated, in Libya by the Muslim Brotherhood, the members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and any other group that has promoted an agenda that would negatively impact United States interests.

(19) The status of the 20,000 MANPADS cited by the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, as well as Libya’s SCUD–Bs and chemical munitions, including mustard gas.

(20) Material, communication, coordination, financing and other forms of support between and among al-Qaeda operatives, its affiliates, and supporters in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa.

(21) Contributions by Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other regional states in support of NATO activities in Libya.

(b) TRANSMITTAL.—The report required by this section shall be submitted in unclassified form, with a classified annex, as deemed necessary.

SEC. 4. FINDINGS.

The President has not sought, and Congress has not provided, authorization for the introduction or continued involvement of the United States Armed Forces in Libya.  Congress has the constitutional prerogative to withhold funding for any unauthorized use of the United States Armed Forces, including for unauthorized activities regarding Libya.

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Comments

tonyson 12/20/2011 5:57am

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valleri 06/04/2011 6:49pm

Unless the United States must deploy troops as a matter to defend against an immediate threat, then Congress should be involved. The lives of our soldier’s are at stake, and I take issue with one man (the President) being able to use the full force of our military for reasons other then an attack.

Regardless of ones opinion on the Libya conflict, our system of checks and balances is important. To that end, Congress should be actively involved.

eth111 06/03/2011 7:37am

The Kucinich Resolution should never have been pulled, so it’s good to have it coming up for vote. Boehner’s stunt is sophomoric at best. Obama’s blatant disregard for the proper role of the Executive branch is an impeachable offense (as was Bush 43). Boehner should follow his own rules and add some teeth to his resolution.

It is my opinion that the People of this country have finally tired of the Kingship that POTUS has become. Congress is not doing the People any favors by acting like the King’s court and Boehner’s stunt is proof of that. Lots of words for a “non-binding” resolution, nothing more than a political stunt to give incumbents a feather in their cap when pushing for re-election next year.

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