by Andrew Walden
Hawaii Congressional representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono today split their Congressional votes on two resolutions sharply rebuking the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya war.
Hanabusa supported Speaker John Boehner’s resolution demanding that Obama seek approval of the war under the War Powers Act within 14 days. Boehner's resolution passed with a 268-145 vote.
Hanabusa also supported a resolution offered by Rep Dennis Kucinich demanding US withdrawal from Libya within 15 days. Kucinich’s resolution failed by a 148-265 vote.
Hirono opposed both resolutions, essentially agreeing that the President may go to war without Congressional approval. This position differs sharply with her loud opposition to the Iraq war under President Bush.
Here are statements from Boehner and Kucinich and links to the full text of both resolutions:
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Speaker Boehner Unveils Resolution on Libya (Hanabusa votes AYE with Boehner against Obama, Hirono votes NAY)
Washington (Jun 2) House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) unveiled a House resolution today on Libya that (1) establishes that the president has not asked for congressional authorization, and that the Congress has not granted it; (2) reasserts Congress’ constitutional role on funding; (3) requires the president to provide within 14 days information on the mission that should have been provided from the start; and (4) reaffirms the vote we took last week that says there should be no troops on the ground. Boehner released the following statement:
“The American people and members on both sides of the aisle are concerned about questions that have gone unanswered regarding our mission in Libya. The President has failed to explain to the nation how this military action is consistent with U.S. national security goals and policy. In fact, this Administration has committed American resources to enforcing a U.N. resolution that is inconsistent with our stated policy goals and national interests when it comes to removing Muammar Qadafi from power. The resolution we will vote on tomorrow will enable members to clearly express the will of our constituents -- in a responsible way that reflects our commitments to our allies and our troops.
“The Kucinich measure would have long-term consequences that are unacceptable, including a precipitous withdrawal from our role supporting our NATO allies in Libya – which could have serious consequences for our broader national security. It would undermine our troops in harm’s way and undercut our allies who have stood by us in Afghanistan and other areas abroad. Regardless of how we got here, we cannot suddenly turn our backs on our troops and our NATO partners who have stuck by us for the last 10 years.”
NOTE: The text of the resolution is available here….
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Kucinich to Colleagues: We Must Defend the Constitution of the United States
NATO Does Not Declare U.S. War, Determine U.S. Policy
Washington D.C. (June 2, 2011) – As Congress sits poised to consider H. Con. Res. 51, Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) bill to end the war in Libya, Kucinich today sent the following letter to Members of Congress:
Yesterday, NATO announced it would continue combat operations in Libya for at least another 90 days. NATO. The President went to NATO on Libya, not the U.S. Congress, as the Constitution requires. The U.S. has thus far provided 93% of the cruise missiles, 66% of the personnel, 50% of the ships and 50% of the planes at an estimated cost of up to $700 million and now NATO says the war will go another 90 days. Since when does NATO trump the Constitution of the United States? It is time, in the name of the people of the United States, that Congress insist that the President obey the Constitution and the statutes concerning war powers.
Last week, I introduced H.Con.Res.51, a bipartisan resolution that disapproves of U.S. military operations in Libya and requires the President to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mission in the country within 15 days after passage. I support my colleague Rep. Turner’s resolution which disapproves of U.S. military operations in Libya because I believe that it is the minimum that Congress must do to challenge the unconstitutional war in Libya. Yet as the war in Libya surpasses the 60 day mark with no end in sight, it is clear that Congress must do more than just express its disapproval.
Article 1, Section 8 provides only Congress with the ability to declare war or authorize the use of military force. The War Powers Act allows a narrow exemption from the Constitutional requirement by allowing the President to take the U.S. to war without Congressional approval in the face of an “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” We have now been involved in a war on Libya for over 72 days with no constitutionally required authorization for the use of military force or declaration of war.
The President recently submitted a letter to Congress about the war in Libya arguing that he was not required to come to Congress for authorization because the war is not really a war. Really.
While we may not all agree on the merits of military intervention in Libya, we can all agree that Congress must have the opportunity to have a full and ample debate on the commitment of U.S. Armed Forces to a war abroad. This institution cannot stand by idly as a war of choice with significant ramifications for our national and economic security is waged without Congress fulfilling its responsibilities under the Constitution. We must defend the Constitution of the United States.
Dennis J. Kucinich, Member of Congress
FULL TEXT: HCR 51
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- Hanabusa votes AYE and Hirono NAY on Boehner resolution: LINK
- Hanabusa votes AYE and Hirono NAY on Kucinich resolution: LINK
Hirono voted NAY on both resolutions effectively agreeing that Obama can wage war in Libya without Congressional approval. This comes after eight years of progressive Democrat rhetoric about the “illegal” war in Iraq—which has always been waged with the approval of the US Congress, the UN Security Council, and the new Iraqi Government. But Obama’s war in Libya? That shouldn’t even have to face a simple vote of approval in Congress.
Could it be that for Hirono questions of war and peace are merely partisan games to be played with the lives of American military personnel and Libyan (and Iraqi and Afghani) civilians?
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War Powers: Lawyer Drafts Articles of Impeachment Over Libya