Tuesday, June 7, 2011


House Concurrent Resolution 51by Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich was drafted short and sweet.  Kucinich says that President Obama's use of American military might in Libya violates the War Powers Act.  Kucinich wants to pull our armed forces away from Libya.  There were 11 cosponsors to Kucinich's resolution.
The language of  House Concurrent Resolution 51 reads:


Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),


Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution.

50 U.S.C. § 1541 et seq. is the War Powers Act.  § 1541 (c) lists three available options a President, as Commander-in-Chief, for deploying America's military.  Those options are to ask the Congress for a declaration of war, engage pursuant to specific statutory authorization, or in response to a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
Under the War Powers Act the President is required to give initial and regular reports to the Congress.  § 1542 says "The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations."
§ 1543 requires the President to make specific reports when there is no declaration of war. President Obama complied with this section of the War Powers Act with the following letter to the Speaker of House and the President of the Senate.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 21, 2011

Letter from the President regarding the commencement of operations in Libya


March 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
At approximately 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on March 19, 2011, at my direction, U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya. As part of the multilateral response authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, U.S. military forces, under the command of Commander, U.S. Africa Command, began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone. These strikes will be limited in their nature, duration, and scope. Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited U.S. actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized Member States, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya, including the establishment and enforcement of a "no-fly zone" in the airspace of Libya. United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.
Muammar Qadhafi was provided a very clear message that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. The international community made clear that all attacks against civilians had to stop; Qadhafi had to stop his forces from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity, and gas supplies to all areas. Finally, humanitarian assistance had to be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
Although Qadhafi's Foreign Minister announced an immediate cease-fire, Qadhafi and his forces made no attempt to implement such a cease-fire, and instead continued attacks on Misrata and advanced on Benghazi. Qadhafi's continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States. Qadhafi's defiance of the Arab League, as well as the broader international community moreover, represents a lawless challenge to the authority of the Security Council and its efforts to preserve stability in the region. Qadhafi has forfeited his responsibility to protect his own citizens and created a serious need for immediate humanitarian assistance and protection, with any delay only putting more civilians at risk.
The United States has not deployed ground forces into Libya. United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster. Accordingly, U.S. forces have targeted the Qadhafi regime's air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Qadhafi's armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas. We will seek a rapid, but responsible, transition of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realize the objectives of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.
For these purposes, I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.

§ 1544 of the War Powers Act triggers a sixty day period, in which the President must either get a declaration of war, or the Congress gives the President a sixty day extension, or the President can continue if the Congress is unable to convene. Congress
§ 1544 (c) is the vehicle Congress can use to pull the plug on the President's war making authority.  This is the section Representative Kucinich used as the basis for House Concurrent Resolution 51.  The House did not agree with Kucinich.  Roll Call Vote 412 saw House Concurrent Resolution 51 go down by a margin of 148 in favor to 265 opposed.  The vote totals on each side were widely bi-partisan with those opposed close to two thirds of those present and voting.  This kind of resolution requires a two thirds vote for passage. Nineteen Representatives were present but did not vote.

Although House Concurrent Resolution 51 failed, there is momentum in the House to force the President's hand.  House Concurrent Resolution 32 has been introduced by Florida Republican Thomas Rooney, with16 cosponsors.
House Concurrent Resolution 32 reads:
 Expressing the sense of Congress that the President is in violation of the War Powers Resolution regarding the use of United States Armed Forces in Libya, and for other purposes.

 Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),

That the President is in violation of the War Powers Resolution regarding the use of United States Armed Forces in Libya and, if the President does not obtain congressional authorization for the use of the Armed Forces in Libya by June 19, 2011, the President should remove the Armed Forces from Libya and the region as soon as practicable after such date.

The difference between Kucinich's "15 days" to get out and Rooney's "as soon as practicable" exit strategy be enough to persuade the House to pass House Concurrent Resolution 32?  At this point a United Kingdom news service,  The Telegraph, is reporting  that "Col. Gaddafi pledged to never surrender and said he would fight to the death, just hours after NATO strikes targeted his Tripoli compound."  Maybe the question is whether Libyan tyrant Muammar el-Qaddafi will survive the next 12 days.  Or will Boehner keep Rooney's legislation bottled up thinking that his own H.Res. 292 will be the final word?

No comments:

Post a Comment