Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to explain to the American people his decision to engage the U.S.military in the ongoing NATO mission in Libya without Congressional authority.
Back on March 18, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul and five Senate colleagues sent a letter to President Obama outlining the actions taken by the President pursuant to the War Powers Act and questioning whether he would comply with the requirements to terminate use of U.S.armed forces in Libyawithin the statutory 60-day period, which expired Friday, May 20.
Here is the letter:
May 18, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On March 19, 2011, you introduced the United States Armed Forces into hostilities in Libya. That action was taken without regard to or compliance with the requirement of section 2(c) of the War Powers Resolution that the United States Armed Forces only be introduced into hostilities or situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances "pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.". Since that time, numerous aircraft and ships have been deployed and engaged in hostilities and remain in situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reports that operations in Libya have cost the Pentagon at least $750 million. Section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. § 1544(b)) mandates that:
Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States.
Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.
Congress received your report pursuant to section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution on March 21, 2011. Friday is the final day of the statutory sixty-day period for you to terminate the use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya under the War Powers Resolution.
As recently as last week your Administration indicated use of the United States Armed Forces will continue indefinitely.
Therefore, we are writing to ask whether you intend to comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.
We await your response.
Signed by Sens. Paul, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
This request has yet received a response. Repeated calls by Senator Paul and other members of congress for the President to explain his decision to ignore the Constitution and continue to commit our military without Congressional approval have gone unanswered.
"As days turn into weeks and months, Americans are left wondering why their president refuses to answer the collective calls concerning the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya," Sen. Paul said today. "The House of Representatives' recent bipartisan resolution serves as another reminder of this - and it is long overdue that the Senate should take up the issue as well. Issuing a strong message to the President underlining his necessity to answer to the Legislative Branch - and the nation it represents - is the least we can do. If the president chooses to ignore his responsibility to the American people, it is our duty to enforce accountability."