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Enewsletter: The War Powers and Libya

June 24, 2011

Dear Friend,

Congress is scrutinizing President Obama’s involvement in Libya largely because of how he interpreted the War Powers Resolution before entering the conflict.  I have heard from many fellow Texans who are concerned about the issue. But first it is important to understand what exactly is the War Powers Resolution?

The War Powers Resolution was enacted in 1973, and gave the President the authority to deploy U.S. forces into conflicts temporarily, without the consent of Congress.  This authority is permitted only if the President determines there are “hostilities” that affect the United States.  If the President exercises this authority, military operations must come to an end after 60 days – unless Congress specifically authorizes U.S. involvement or approves an extension.  In Libya, the United States reached the 60 day period on May 20th – so why has the President not asked for Congressional approval?

The Pentagon and the Department of Justice’s top lawyers informed the White House that the U.S. military involvement in Libya was tantamount to “hostilities” and the President needed to seek Congressional approval.  He has not done so and Obama has claimed that since the U.S. is merely supporting a NATO mission he does not have to seek Congressional approval. 

I will continue to watch this situation very closely, but if the President is not following the spirit and letter of the law Congress should intervene.

Kay Granger