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Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Friday called for Congress to return from recess to vote on a declaration of war with Libya.
The plea came soon after President Barack Obama warned Col. Moammar Gadhafi he would face military action from allied forces, including those from the United States, if he did not issue a cease-fire immediately and stop attacking Libyan civilians. Obama’s comments followed up on a United Nations Security Council vote Thursday to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and military action against Gadhafi to protect the people in the North African country.
The Ohio Democrat charged that Obama’s statement supporting the U.N.’s actions is an act of war and requires Congressional approval.
“A commitment of U.S. forces should not occur under these circumstances. As then-Sen. Obama wrote in 2007, ‘The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authoriz[e] a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’ I agree,” Kucinich wrote in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), urging the leader to call the House back into session to debate a war authorization.
In a statement, the anti-war advocate maintained: “Both houses of Congress must weigh in. This is not for the President alone, or for a few high ranking Members of Congress to decide.” House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) also issued a statement calling on Obama to consult Congress before sending troops in accordance with the U.N. resolution.
Both chambers are on recess next week and will not be back in session until the week of March 28. A spokesman for Boehner would not comment on whether the Speaker would heed Kucinich’s request.
The last time Congress approved a resolution of war was in 1942, when the United States was fighting in World War II. Congress can also approve a resolution of military force rather than one to declare war. After 9/11, Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone involved with the attacks. Kucinich voted in favor of that resolution but against the resolution authorizing force in Iraq.
He twice ran for president on an anti-war platform.