WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s top critic in the US Congress pressed him on Tuesday to explain in detail why he has not sought lawmakers’ formal approval for operations in Libya as required under US law.
Republican US House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama in a letter that the administration will fall afoul, come Sunday, of the 1973 War Powers Act aimed at curtailing US presidents’ ability to deploy the military overseas.
“It would appear that in five days, the Administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution unless it asks for and receives authorization from Congress or withdraws all US troops and resources from the mission,” he said.
“Given the gravity of the constitutional and statutory questions involved, I request your answer by Friday, June 17,” Boehner said in his latest challenge to Obama on his handling of a conflict deeply unpopular with the US public.
The speaker, the third-highest ranking US elected official, noted that the White House has simultaneously shrugged off seeking a formal authorization for the conflict and said the US role does not violate the War Powers Act.
“The combination of these actions has left many Members of Congress, as well as the American people, frustrated by the lack of clarity over the Administration’s strategic policies” as well as “a refusal” to respect the Congress’s role or follow the 1973 law, said Boehner.
The War Powers Act allows the president to use force in response to an attack on the United States, its territories, or its armed forces, but calls for notifying congress within 48 hours and says US troops must start to withdraw 60 days later unless specifically authorized to remain by lawmakers.
The US Constitution reserves to congress the right to declare war, though US presidents have often deployed forces without first getting lawmakers’ explicit say-so and ignored the war powers measure.