Senators introduce first bipartisan resolution on Libya mission
May 23rd, 2011
04:19 PM ET
12 years ago

Senators introduce first bipartisan resolution on Libya mission

Washington (CNN) – Sens. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and John McCain, R-Arizona, formally introduced a bipartisan resolution Monday expressing Congress' support for U.S. military action in Libya, laying the groundwork for what could be the first congressional action on the mission since it began more than two months ago.

But the resolution falls short of explicitly giving the president congressional authorization for U.S. military involvement in Libya.

This past Friday marked a 60-day deadline which, under the War Powers Act, required President Obama to get congressional authorization for the war in Libya or begin to withdraw troops.

The president never met that deadline, but late Friday, he sent a letter to congressional leaders endorsing the Libya resolution Kerry and McCain had been working on as something he would welcome.

"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," wrote the president late Friday.

Kerry's and McCain's resolution, which they had been working on for some time but until now had not been public, is not a formal authorization of military action in Libya. The resolution makes no mention of the War Powers Act.

It "supports the limited use of military force by the United States in Libya as part of the NATO mission to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011), as requested by the Transitional National Council, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council."

It also calls on the president to:

–Submit to Congress a description of United States policy objectives in Libya, both during and after the rule of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and a detailed plan to achieve those objectives; and

–Consult regularly with Congress regarding U.S. efforts in Libya

As for House action, Kevin Smith, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, tells CNN “No decisions have been made about how to proceed and we’ll discuss it with our members.”

Earlier in the day, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor suggested Libya may be addressed in an amendment as part of a broader House debate this week on a defense bill, but it’s unclear what the language would be, if any.

McCain told CNN that there was "no motivation to do it before. Now there seems to be."

It is still unclear when, or if, Senate Democratic leaders will bring up this resolution for a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told CNN Monday morning it had not been decided.

Perceived inaction on the part of Obama has angered some lawmakers from both the left and the right who rarely agree on anything.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, told CNN last week that he believed Obama was trying to "bring democracy to Libya while shredding the Constitution of the United States."

"He cannot continue what he is doing in Libya without congressional authorization. When a president defiantly violates the law, that really undercuts our efforts to urge other countries to have the rule of law," Sherman said.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, concurred.

"You could say, 'Well, we have a good president, he'll do the right thing.' Well, some day you may have a president who does the wrong thing, and that's why you have rules, because you can never count on people being good people," Paul told CNN.

He called it "appalling" and a "terrible precedent" to engage in military action without the people's representatives - Congress - debating it.

Both Sherman and Paul expressed frustration with their own party leaders who had not pushed for congressional action in the two months since the United States has been engaged in Libya.

– CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett Contributed to this report

Filed under: John Kerry • John McCain • Libya
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. HAD ENOUGH? 9% unemployment, massive foreclosures, $4-5/gal gas, $1.7 TRILLION deficits, $14 TRILLION debt, Obamacare, Libyan war, unsecure borders, illegal alien invasion, alienated allies, embolden enemies

    But the resolution falls short of explicitly giving the president congressional authorization for U.S. military involvement in Libya.
    Why bother then? This is yet another useless Democrat manuever to say they did something. FACT is Obama is violating the law and Constitution with his use of our military in Libya. He has shown repeatedly he will violate and ignore the law. And this clown taught constitutional law to kids??? What does THAT tell you about our schools??!!

    May 23, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    speaking of undeclared wars. what the heck was that in Iraq the past few years? If you want to keep count Mr. Pual and Mr Sherman.......

    American lives lost so far in Libya 0
    American lives lost so far in Iraq and Afghan.....why even count you are aware of the numbers I'm sure.

    May 23, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. John

    It about Time the two party Compromise on something.

    May 23, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. carrotroot

    It's been 2 months and Congress is STILL debating this??? By the time they finally get around to some sort of resolution Gadaffi will probably be dead.

    May 23, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. don

    "Stay your coarse Mr.President. You have handled the libya conflict with intelligence,and grace. Im just real happy your at the "Helm". I know Mr. Mcain( with all due respect), or any other Republican would have went in "Guns a Blazen" Stay your way,America trust your judgement! 2012

    May 23, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Bill

    This isn't a partisan issue; stop trying to make it one. You have Dems who are opposed and Reps who are in favor - and vice versa. Would somebody please tell Rand Paul that this is how democracy works?

    May 23, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Warrantless wire tapping and invading Iraq based on a lie and Republicans didn't say nothing to Bush, where's the resolution for that Republicans and please don't say that was then.

    May 23, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "FACT is Obama is violating the law and Constitution with his use of our military in Libya."

    No, that is not fact. FACT is that he has 30 days from last Friday to stop all engagement in Libya if he doesn't get sufficient authorization. If he fails to do THAT, THEN he'll be operating outside the War Powers Act. While it's true that Congress didn't HAVE to act in the first 60 days, it's fairly telling that Congress sat on its twiddling thumbs that whole time while trying to score political points on Libya but failed to do anything productive about it. Now, we have a situation in which all of it has to stop in 30 days if they don't authorize it under the War Powers Act. Any pressure or feeling of being rushed is their own darn fault. We'll see if Obama pulls the troops out in the required 30 days if they don't authorize guess is he will...and then who wil be to blame if the remaining NATO forces can't keep Libya from descending into chaos?

    May 23, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "You are okay with increasing the national debt by 40% in 2 years? Obama, Harry Reid and the rest of the Washington Democratic Political Spending Machine appreciate your support. Our kids don't. They will need to work very hard to pay off this level of debt. Here's your gift from Grandpa Sniffit: 50% of your pay going to China just to pay interest."

    Yes, that's exactly what I said even though the very next sentence of my post was that everyone recognizes the need to get the budget under control and make spending cuts...but it's about the character and nature of those cuts that there is important disagreement. You're so right tho. If the GOP holds the debt ceiling hostage, demanding unilaterally that "WE GET THE CUTS WE WANT OR ELSE, BOOM!" then it absolutely means that the Dems don't want to make reasonable and responsible budgetary adjustments if they then tell the GOP to go frag itself with its sophomoric 2-year-old-throwing-an-"I WANT IT, I WANT IT"-tantrum political tactics and wh-ring for the ultra-wealthy and corporations. They're not going to bully us ito giving up Medicare and Social Security and we're done letting them bully us into their version of a plutocratic utopia. If it continues down the path it's been headed down, well, I suggest you read something about the French Revolution.

    May 23, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. gt

    all the ones who want to keep score of how many died here or there... you go or send your children to fight... i sure you didnt serve anyway.. get our troops home now...!!

    May 23, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Those Pesky, Liberal -- FACTS

    This selective [read: partisan] emphasis on the War Powers Act is one of the things that Americans are tired of. The GOP doesn't do itself any favors by making a bunch of noise about Obama on this topic.

    Now, if they had railed against Republican Presidents who ran afoul of the law then they could claim the high moral ground.

    Seems to me if we had a principled Congress, they would seek to have the Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of the War Powers Act once and for all. They won't do that though because the outcome would likely benefit their poltical opponent and we can't let that happen.

    May 23, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. KatR

    When the War Powers Act became law it was in response to Nixon's military missions in SE Asia...w/o consent of Congress before doing so. I see the Libya situation as not fitting under the heading of the War Powers Act nor the Constitutional dictate that only Congress can declare war. America is working as one part of an international coalition. Our Constitution was written more than two centuries ago. Who woulda thunk it? That countries would work together to accomplish something. IMHO we might need another amendment to clearly mark the parameters for stuff like this.

    May 23, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Mutt

    These two guys crack me up. Both of them had their moment in the spotlight, both of them totally bombed. Please go away.....what do each of these men have in common? They both were trahed by W & neither one of them ever stood up for himself. How bad do you have to be to like a guy like W beat you down?

    May 23, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. skarphace

    So they want to show that they support military action in Libya but do not support the fact that our President has authorized military action in Libya? I am sorry, but that confuses me. They should just vote on whether they want military action to continue past the 30 days of extension granted by the War Powers Act and have done with it. They actually should have taken care of this issue before the extension, but I guess that would just be common sense.

    May 23, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. Chandler02

    People are sooooo clueless. After the 60 days, they have another 30 days to draft legislation. Stop and look up the facts before you engage in hyperbole.

    May 23, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |