Key Senate Republican Says Administration Needs Declaration Of War For Libyan No-Fly Zone

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today said if the Obama administration wants to implement a no-fly zone in Libya, then it must first get Congress to declare war.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., also said if a no-fly zone is implemented, then the Arab League should pay for its costs.

“Given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame, the strains on our military, and other factors, it is doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. If the Obama Administration is contemplating this step, however, it should begin by seeking a declaration of war against Libya that would allow for a full Congressional debate on the issue,” Lugar said in a statement Monday.

“In addition, it should ask Arab League governments and other governments advocating for a no-fly zone to pledge resources necessary to pay for such an operation,” he said.

Lugar, who is fighting a tough re-election battle in the Hoosier state, differs with the Senate’s number-three Democrat Chuck Schumer on the issue of whether or not the White House should get Congress to declare war if the administration wants to implement a no-fly zone.

On Sunday Schumer, D-NY, said it is up to the president to decide.

“I believe on these we should defer to the commander in chief on short term, immediate situations like this,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

A number of senators have vociferously demanded a no-fly zone in Libya. On Monday Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, I-CT, introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for a no-fly zone to combat Libyan strongman Moamar Gaddafi.

“A no-fly zone was never going to be the decisive action that tipped the balance against Qaddafi, even when Senator Lieberman and I called for it nearly three weeks ago. But it remains the case that a no-fly zone would take one of Qaddafi’s most lethal tools off the table, and thereby boost the confidence of Libya’s opposition,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “It is Libyans themselves who want to do the fighting against Qaddafi, but they want it to be a fair fight. So should we.”

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