As the US President wages war in Libya, Congress feels left out and uninformed. Angry with Obama many are questioning the legality of the unilateral action by the Executive Branch of the US government.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “Before any further military commitments are made the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission.”
While Boehner supported a no-fly zone over Libya, he expressed concern for the lack of communication between Obama and the legislature.
“The focus is on Congressional consultation,” explained a Boehner aide.
While Obama is not obligated legally to receive approval for military action by the Congress, most insisted it is in his best interest to consult with the elected lawmakers and his duty under the War Powers Act of 1973 which insists the President consult with Congress. However, presidential powers have greatly expanded over the years to become increasingly vague.
Obama is required however to go to the Congress if he intends to declare war.
“I think [the President] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz told The Huffington Post. “I see no clear and present danger to the United States of America. I just don’t. We’re in a bit of the fog at the moment as to what the President is trying to ultimately do.”
“In the absence of a credible, direct threat to the United States and its allies or to our valuable national interests, what excuse is there for not seeking congressional approval of military action?” said Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler. “I think it is wrong and a usurpation of power and the fact that prior presidents have done it is not an excuse.”
Republican Congressman Justin Amash has directly alleged Obama is violating the US Constitution by engaging in military action in Libya, citing words used by President Obama himself as a Senator.
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” said Obama as a US Senator.
“Under the President’s and my reading of the Constitution, the U.S. must halt all strikes against Libya. I call on congressional leadership to reconvene session so we can vote on whether to authorize military action,” Amash concluded.
In addition, Republican Congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul is promoting a resolution that expresses Congress’ belief that the US President is required to obtain in advance specific authorization for the use of the US military in Libya. The measure has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats.