The House Takes a Stand

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 24, 2011

Maybe if President Obama had worked harder to justify why we need to conduct a war against Libya–and maybe if he were more solicitous of the need to get Congressional approval–he would not have had his wings clipped by the House of Representatives:

The House on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a measure giving President Barack Obama the authority to continue the U.S. military operation against Libya, a major repudiation of the commander in chief.
The vote was 295-123, with Obama losing the support of 70 of his Democrats one day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had made a last-minute plea for the mission.

While the congressional action had no immediate effect on American involvement in the NATO-led mission, it was an embarrassment to a sitting president and certain to have reverberations in Tripoli and NATO capitals.
The vote marked the first time since 1999 that either House has voted against a military operation. The last time was over President Bill Clinton’s authority in the Bosnian war.

It’s not often that I agree with Jerrold Nadler, but this is worth bearing in mind:

A House Democrat warned Friday that the U.S. president is becoming an “absolute monarch” on matters related to the authority to start a war.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Congress must act to limit funding for military operations in Libya in order to correct that trend.

“We have been sliding for 70 years to a situation where Congress has nothing to do with the decision about whether to go to war or not, and the president is becoming an absolute monarch,” Nadler said on the floor.

“And we must put a stop to that right now, if we don’t want to become an empire instead of a republic.”

Nadler stressed that he is not talking exclusively about “this president,” meaning President Obama. But he said nonetheless that Congress needs to reassert its authority to declare war, and said this should be done even over concerns that it would damage U.S. credibility with its NATO allies.

“I think that the nation’s credibility, that is to say its promise to go to war as backed by the president, not by the Congress, ought to be damaged,” he said.

My only complaint is that if Nadler were talking exclusively about this President, he would be justified. No other President in modern times has been so disdainful of Congress’s wartime authority as President Obama has been. And if in launching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush behaved the way this President has behaved in launching the war in Libya, more than one Democrat would have called for impeachment.

Previous post:

Next post: