Holding the President Accountable on Libya
by Ron Paul: Fess
to Ron Paul.
more than 70 days after President Obama sent our military to attack
Libya without a congressional declaration of war, the House of Representatives
finally voted on two resolutions attempting to rein in the president.
This debate was long overdue, as polls show Americans increasingly
are frustrated by congressional inaction. According to a CNN poll
last week, 55 percent of the American people believe that Congress,
not the president, should have the final authority to decide whether
the U.S. should continue its military mission in Libya. Yet for
more than 70 days Congress has ignored its constitutional obligations
and allowed the president to usurp its authority.
Dennis Kucinich was able to bring to the floor a resolution asserting
that proper constitutional war power authority resides with Congress.
His resolution simply stated that "Congress directs the President
to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later
than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of
this concurrent resolution."
the withdrawal resolution said the 15-day deadline was too abrupt.
But as I pointed out during debate, the president attacked Libya
abruptly he didn't even bother to consult Congress
so why can't he order an end to military action just as abruptly?
When members of Congress took an oath of office to defend the Constitution,
we did not pledge to defend it only gradually, a little bit at a
time. On the contrary, we must defend it vigorously and completely
from the moment we take that oath. I was pleased that 87 Republicans
were able to put the Constitution first and support this resolution.
John Boehner offered his own resolution on the same day, which declared
that Congress would not support the insertion of US ground troops
into Libya. Although this unfortunately was far from adequate to
satisfy our constitutional obligations, it certainly was a step
in the right direction and I am pleased that it passed in the House.
Just days before Speaker Boehner's resolution, an amendment to the
defense authorization act prohibited the president from using any
funds in the bill to insert US troops into Libya. A separate amendment
last week prohibiting any funds appropriated to the Department of
Homeland Security from being used to attack Libya came within just
a handful of votes from passing. All of these votes demonstrate
that members of Congress increasingly understand that our foreign
wars are deeply unpopular with their constituents. We are broke,
and the American people know it. They expect Congress to focus on
fixing America's economic problems, rather than rubber stamping
yet another open-ended military intervention in Libya.
I believe these
resolutions and amendments indicate that the tide is turning in
the right direction. I am confident we will see Congress move toward
ending our unconstitutional wars. The American people are demanding
no less. The president's attack on Libya was unconstitutional and
thus unlawful. This policy must be reversed.
the Ron Paul File
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
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