Obama urges Congress backing for Libya action

A picture shows damages at the port of Tripoli
© AFP Imed Lamloum


WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Friday asked lawmakers to back “limited” US action in the NATO assault on Libya, as he hit a technical 60-day deadline to get official congressional approval for the use of his war powers.

The White House maintains that its support role to allies in Libya does not merit a formal declaration of war as is required by the US Constitution.

It also said the action falls short of the kind of campaign governed by the 1973 War Powers Act that requires any military action longer than 60 days to be authorized by Congress.

But in a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, the president said that it would be helpful instead if lawmakers backed a binding resolution to underline US support for a “remarkable” international effort.

“While we are no longer in the lead, US support for the NATO-based coalition remains crucial to assuring the success of international efforts to protect civilians from the actions of the Kadhafi regime,” Obama wrote.

“Congressional action in support of the mission would underline the US commitment to this remarkable international effort.

“Such a Resolution is also important in the context of our constitutional framework, as it would demonstrate a unity of purpose among the political branches on this important national security matter.

“It has always been my view that it is better to take military action, even in limited actions such as this, with Congressional engagement, consultation, and support,” Obama wrote.

Some conservative Republicans have accused Obama of committing US forces “without regard to, or compliance with” the War Powers Act but there does not appear to be a critical majority in Congress to support that position.

The US Constitution reserves to Congress the right to declare war, though US presidents have often sent forces into combat without first getting lawmakers’ explicit say-so, despite the War Powers Act.

The law 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.

The act says such a withdrawal can last 30 days.

Obama did not appear to be aiming for a formal authorization of the Libya action, merely a measure stating the political support of lawmakers.

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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