House Speaker John Boehner blasted President Obama Tuesday for not giving Congress any sense of whether the Executive branch will comply with federal law that calls for congressional approval of war operations. In a letter to the president, the Ohio Republican said Sunday marks 90 days since the start of military operations in Libya. Boehner asked the president to explain to Congress how the operation is outside the scope of the War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval for military action, and if he can't, Boehner warned the White House to get on the right side of the law.
"On June 3, 2011, the House passed a resolution which, among other provisions, made clear that the administration has not asked for, nor received, congressional authorization of the mission in Libya," Boehner's letter says. "Therefore, 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 U.S. troops and resources from the mission."
The White House has argued for months that NATO is leading the way in Libya and so the president doesn't need permission from Congress to keep American forces fighting in the battle to topple Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has also argued at multiple press briefings that the administration is working within the parameters of the act. And National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Veitor says the White House is finalizing a more detailed report.
"We are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya, including those raised in the House resolution as well as our legal analysis with regard to the War Powers Resolution," Veitor said in a statement. "Since March 1st, Administration witnesses have testified at over 10 hearings that included a substantial discussion of Libya and participated in over 30 Member or staff briefings, and we will continue to consult with our Congressional colleagues.
Boehner's letter acknowledges that military officials have briefed members of Congress on the tactical and operational aspects of the Libya action, but Boehner suggested he's not convinced by the administration's logic.
"The White House has systematically avoided requesting a formal authorization for its action. It has simultaneously sought, however, to portray that its actions are consistent with the War Powers Resolution," the letter reads. "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, by a refusal to acknowledge and respect the role of the Congress, and by a refusal to comply with the basic tenets of the War Powers Resolution."
Boehner and Obama are set to take to the golf course this weekend in what has been billed as a chance for the two men to talk federal debt and deficits. But with Sunday marking 90 days since the March 18 start of the operation, the speaker's letter will likely loom large on the links.
"I respect your authority as commander-in-chief, though I remain deeply concerned the Congress has not been provided answers from the Executive branch to fundamental questions regarding the Libya mission necessary for us to fulfill our equally important constitutional responsibilities," Boehner wrote.
The letter comes as a recent Fox News poll shows 59 percent of Americans believe the president should seek Congressional consent for the mission in Libya. Twenty-eight percent say he should not get Congress's permission.