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White House sees no need for congressional approval on Libya

June 15, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro
(Michael Reynolds / European…)

Calling the U.S. military operation in Libya "limited," the White House says that congressional authorization is not required to continue involvement in the coalition effort there.

That determination was explained in a 30-page memo sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, just shy of the 90th day of the engagement of U.S. assets in the Libya campaign.

Lawmakers have become increasingly uneasy over the administration's interactions with Congress about the scope and duration of U.S. involvement in the NATO-led mission.

Photos: U.S., allies strike targets in Libya

The House passed a resolution this month demanding a report from the White House on the military operation. A bipartisan majority in the House agreed this week to withhold funds for any military operation that does not comply with the War Powers Act, although the measure is unlikely to survive in the Senate.
 
House Speaker John A. Boehner sent the White House a letter this week saying the administration would be in violation of the War Powers Act on Sunday.

The White House says otherwise.

"Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the president had constitutional authority, as commander in chief and chief executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad," the memo states.

"The president is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the resolution’s 60 day termination provision," it continues.

The memo also documents what it describes as "extensive" consultations with the legislative branch, including testimony at 10 hearings, participation in 30 briefings with lawmakers and staff, and dozens of calls and emails with individual members.

In its initial response to the memo, Boehner's office said President Obama had "fallen short" of his obligation to properly explain the U.S. involvement.

"We will review the information that was provided today, but hope and expect that this will serve as the beginning, not the end, of the president’s explanation for continued American operations in Libya," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican.

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