John Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner questions Administration policy in Libya. Image: House GOP Leader/Flickr/CC BY

House Speaker John Boehner has sent a strongly worded letter to President Obama asking him to justify the military action currently under way in Libya. The Speaker warns that the administration will be in violation of the War Powers Act if it does not request and receive consent from Congress by Sunday.

Unrest in Libya

Recent uprisings in the Middle East have overthrown governments in Egypt to the east of Libya and in Tunisia to the west. The unrest has continued, leading to conflicts between rag-tag rebel forces and Libyan troops. A U.S.-backed series of NATO airstrikes began in March, pummeling Ghadafi’s forces.

Since the airstrikes began, there has been concern over the administration’s actions from both sides of the aisle in Washington. Some Democrats have condemned the airstrikes as unconstitutional. In the GOP presidential debate Monday night, Michele Bachmann criticized the President’s policy in Libya for being based on inadequate intelligence.

House resolution failed

On June 3, the House voted on a non-binding resolution that would have required the U.S. to pull out of Libya within 15 days. Although 87 Republicans voted for the measure, it failed 265-148.

A letter to the White House

Boehner’s letter was sent to the White House Tuesday. In it, the Speaker points out that Sunday will mark the 90-day point from the first U.S. airstrikes on Libya. He strongly requested that the President either gives a “clear explanation of the legal standing” for the action, “or withdraws all U.S. troops and resources from the mission.”

‘Frustrated by the lack of clarity’

Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, writes that the administration has “systematically avoided” requesting authorization for the mission, yet portrays its actions as “consistent with the War Powers resolution.” This, he continues, has left many members of Congress “frustrated by the lack of clarity over the administration’s strategic policies.”

Reminder of an oath

Reminding Mr. Obama of his oath to “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” Boehner concludes that the president has determined that either “the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution.” He further claims that the House and the American people deserve to know which conclusion the president has drawn. Although Boehner claims to respect Obama’s authority as Commander-in-Chief, he does question the president’s leadership, and strongly requests a detailed explanation by Friday.


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