Six GOP Senators to Obama: Follow the Law on Libya

President Obama informed Congress that he had sent U.S. forces into Libya on March 21. Under the War Powers Act, the president must ask Congressional authorization within 60 days. That deadline came Friday. On Thursday, six Republican senators sent the following letter to the president, asking whether he intended to obey the law. This is an all-too-rare instance of our elected officials having the courage to stand behind the Constitution (which restricts the warmaking power to Congress) and telling Obama to follow the rule of law. — Ed.

Dear Mr. President:

On March 19, 2011, you introduced the United States Armed Forces into hostilities in Libya. That action was taken without regard to or compliance with the requirement of section 2(c) of the War Powers Resolution that the United States Armed Forces only be introduced into hostilities or situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances “pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

Since that time, numerous aircraft and ships have been deployed and engaged in hostilities and remain in situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reports that operations in Libya have cost the Pentagon at least $750 million.

Section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. § 1544(b)) mandates that:

Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

Congress received your report pursuant to section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution on March 21, 2011. Friday is the final day of the statutory sixty-day period for you to terminate the use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya under the War Powers Resolution. As recently as last week your Administration indicated use of the United States Armed Forces will continue indefinitely. Therefore, we are writing to ask whether you intend to comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. We await your response.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC
Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI
Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX