Speaker John Boehner wants to preserve Congress war-declaring power and voice the concerns of the GOP Conference, without complicating a military matter.
“I think he’ll start to turn up the volume of the frustration at the White House over their stance of ignoring Congress,” said Ron Bonjean, a former GOP leadership staffer. “Every day President Obama ignores Congress, it makes it riskier and riskier for the administration.”
Despite the uptick in rhetoric that will likely include heated speeches on the floor this week, a strong vote on a defunding bill could have little effect since the Senate has yet to rally behind any position on Libya.
Several Republicans in the Senate have also taken a different approach than their House counterparts by maintaining that Obama does not need Congress’ approval for the ongoing military effort that began in March, in response to international concerns that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was attacking unarmed civilians and protesters.
“The War Powers Act is unconstitutional and not worth the paper it is written on,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The president needs to step up his game in Libya, but Congress should sort of shut up and not empower Gadhafi.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been critical of the administration for its handling of the conflict, also maintained that the U.S. needs to continue its presence in Libya.
The Senate has been in a holding pattern, with the Foreign Relations Committee postponing hearings on the issue. Still, Senators that want the chamber to weigh in on the matter are looking for legislative avenues to ensure their voices are heard.
Republican sources said Sen. Rand Paul is contemplating a resolution calling for withdrawal and a bill demanding a declaration of war. As of Monday at press time, the Kentucky Republican had not decided how he wanted to proceed, if at all.
Anna Palmer and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.