In the immortal words of the vice president, this is could be a big $%^ing deal: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is throwing what one Republican calls “a legal and political hot potato at the President.”
In a resolution to be voted on in the House tomorrow, Boehner is giving the president two weeks – until the Pentagon Appropriations bill comes up – to either:
a) Ask for authorization for the military intervention in Libya, or
b) Figure out how to disengage the US from the NATO operation in Libya.
The resolution states: “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.”
Boehner is explicitly and formally stating that the president did not check the box on the War Powers Act before sending the US military to intervene in Libya.
The White House had no immediate comment, though earlier today White House press secretary Jay Carney said “we believe that the policy is working, we believe that the goal the president has is shared by a vast majority of members of Congress, and we have consulted with Congress every step of the way since we have initiated this policy.” Carney went on to reiterate that “our involvement militarily is limited, as the president promised, and will continue to be so, and he has made very clear, for example, that we will not be sending ground troops to Libya; that is off the table.”
Last week we noted that two bipartisan actions in the House of Representatives related to Libya seemed to bode ill for congressional support for the U.S. role in military intervention there. Last month in a letter to congressional leaders, the president suggested that the US mission in Libya is now so limited he didn’t think congressional authorization necessary,
House Republican leaders believe that if the resolution being offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio -- requiring the president to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from participation in the NATO mission in Libya within 15 days – had come up yesterday it would have passed.
Instead the Kucinich bill comes up tomorrow. With the Boehner bill an alternative.
According to a House Republican aide, in the House GOP conference this afternoon, Speaker Boehner said: “The Kucinich measure will express our constituents’ angst, but it will also have long-term consequences I believe are unacceptable. If Kucinich passes, it will have an impact on Afghanistan. From a NATO perspective, we're trying to hold the alliance together and advance a common agenda in Afghanistan. We will have turned our backs against our NATO partners who have stuck by us for the last 10 years.”
Boehner then quoted from a Heritage Foundation paper on the possibility of congressional action on Libya: “’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 used the attached PowerPoint slide to make his case against the Kucinich resolution (click for larger version):
-Jake Tapper ( @jaketapper )