Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Monday that President Barack Obama is acting outside his power by authorizing military action in Libya and that he is reviewing legislative and parliamentary procedures available for ending U.S. involvement.
“The president may have been able to make the argument there was a threat to the citizens of Libya, but he cannot credibly make the argument that there was an actual or imminent threat to the United States,” the Ohio Democrat said in an interview. “Frankly, he has a lot of explaining to do.”
Obama has come under fire from lawmakers in both parties for not seeking Congress’ permission last week before committing military resources to enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, which was approved by the United Nations Security Council. In 2007, then-Sen. Obama said the U.S. president does not have the authority to unilaterally authorize a military attack without the consent of Congress, except in self-defense.
“What should have happened last week is that they should have held the Congress [from adjourning for this week’s recess], knowing that there was a possibility of military” action, Kucinich said. “Just think about this: He had time to talk to United Nations to garner 10 votes, time to talk to Arab League, obviously he talked to NATO and worked out a partnership with France and Great Britain. It seems like he talked to everyone except the United States Congress. There is no excuse that is constitutionally acceptable.”
Kucinich unsuccessfully called on Congress on Friday to come back into session to vote on whether the U.S. military should engage in Libya. Both chambers are in recess and will not be back in session until the week of March 28, and the mission began Saturday.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) urged the president Friday to consult with Congress on the matter, while Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, reminded Obama on the same day that “the president has an obligation under the Constitution to seek the approval of Congress for any use of military force unless there is an imminent threat to the United States or its allies.”
Kucinich posted on his Twitter account Monday that he plans to propose an amendment to the next continuing resolution to eliminate funds for the Libya intervention — an idea that could forge some unusual alliances.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Monday that he could “potentially” support legislative action that would end U.S. military involvement in Libya. The conservative Utah Republican said he is deeply concerned that Obama sought authorization from the United Nations for launching airstrikes in Libya but did not seek Congressional approval.
“This is another example of where the Congress ends up looking as if it is irrelevant,” he said. “Whether it’s the Department of the Interior, [Environmental Protection Agency] or going to war with Libya, the president seems to regard Congress as if it is irrelevant.”
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