House Rebukes Obama on Libya

The war-making powers of Congress and the president have come into constitutional conflict time and time again. What’s the battlefield this time? Hostilities — or, perhaps, lack thereof — in Libya.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives denied President Obama’s proposal for authorization for a year-long mission in Libya. In fact, the House decisively voted to deny Obama the authority to wage war in Libya altogether; Republicans were unable, however, to cut off funds for any and all operations in Libya.

We can infer a great deal from this legislative-executive showdown. For one, lawmakers are evidently concerned about any open-ended U.S. commitment to war, particularly in the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, they are concerned about the nature of this specific conflict between Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and the rebel forces seeking to expel him. Finally, the 295-123 vote sends a clear message from representatives to Barack Obama: Do not go over our heads.Although Obama claimed last week he did not need congressional authorization within 60 days, as the War Powers Resolution stipulates he must, because operations in Libya did not amount to full-blown hostilities, the House clearly did not buy it. Obama has, as yesterday’s vote shows, effectively incensed his legislative counterpart.

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1 Comment

Filed under Arab Spring, Middle East, U.S. Politics

One response to “House Rebukes Obama on Libya

  1. They voted not to authorize the war, then *immediately* voted to keep funding it. There isn’t a mass revolt in the House over Libya. They took the first vote so that they could be on the record as ‘against the war’, something that can be used in their re-election campaigns. Nothing more than the usual Congressional kabuki theater here.

    Rather than drawing serious attention to the one of the major issues surrounding Libya (whether Obama has the constitutional authority), the House has just made itself look incoherent and weak. In a way it validates Obama’s bypassing Congress in the first place–if I had to deal with a bunch of buffoons like them, I’d do the same thing.

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