|US Sen. Rand Paul
© AFP/Getty Images/File Chip Somodevilla
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two senators concerned about US military strikes on Libya warned Friday they aimed to force a vote on whether President Barack Obama has the authority to wage war without congressional approval.
“We believe the answer is that he does not,” Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee said in a letter to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Paul and Lee said they would block legislation pending in the Senate until Reid schedules a debate and vote on a resolution offered by Paul that states Obama “does not have the power to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
“While we realize there are other matters the Senate had planned to work on, it is our belief that there is very little we are doing that rises to the level of a constitutional question regarding war,” they wrote.
“We do not take this responsibility lightly, and we believe the Senate is abdicating its responsibility at this very moment,” they said in the letter, which Paul’s office made public.
“The bombing and military action against the Libyan government will be two weeks old by the time we return to session next week. That means congressional debate on this war is two weeks overdue,” they said.
Jon Summers, a spokesman for Reid, said the Obama administration had done a “good job of consulting with Congress and conveying as much information to us as is possible.”
“Further, the Senate has had hearings and briefings, which Senators Paul and Lee have been invited to attend, throughout the week to carefully examine the effectiveness of our operations, and will continue to do so as operations continue,” he said.
The US Constitution reserves to Congress the right to declare war, though US presidents have often deployed forces without first getting lawmakers’ explicit say-so, despite a 1973 law that aimed to curtail their ability to do so.
The War Powers Act allows the president to use force in response to an attack on the United States, its territories, or its armed forces, but calls for notifying Congress within 48 hours and says US troops must start to withdraw 60 days later unless specifically authorized to remain by lawmakers.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license