By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Republican - 6th Congressional District (VA)
Nearly three months ago U.S. forces, at the command of President Obama and without the consent of the U.S. Congress, began attacking targets in Libya controlled by Moammar Gaddafi. I think most Americans, including myself, agree that seeing this tyrannical dictator and his regime of thugs removed from power would be a good thing. However, I think most Americans, including myself, also feel strongly that American forces should not be committed to this kind of mission without the consent of the U.S. Congress.
President Obama cites the War Powers Resolution of 1973 as giving him the authority to commit U.S. forces to the mission in Libya. However, the War Powers Resolution clearly states that the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief to introduce U.S. forces into hostilities can be exercised only when a declaration of war has been issued, specific statutory authorization has been given or in the event of a national emergency created by an attack on the United States or its forces. The President has failed to define the mission in Libya and America's role in achieving that mission before committing our military forces.
I have been alarmed by the President’s failure to comply with the War Powers Act and to define the U.S. mission in Libya. This Congress must not neglect its responsibility and authority regarding the use of force, and so I am pleased that days ago this important issue was finally debated on the floor of the House.
I voted for the bipartisan resolution which demands that the President provide answers about our involvement in the conflict in Libya, including the President’s justification for not seeking Congressional authorization for this action. The resolution gives the President 14 days to respond to this request.
The President should take very seriously this resolution. And our leadership in Congress should be vigilant to demand a full and clear response from the President. This resolution also gives adequate notice to NATO and our other allies of the concerns of the House before the House takes further action and reaffirms the position of the House that there should be no troops on the ground in Libya.
House-passage of this resolution is an important first step in restoring the balance that our Founding Fathers envisioned, that our legislative and executive branches share the responsibility regarding the use of U.S. force. However, this recent action taken by the House of Representatives should not be the last step. In the coming days, the House must continue to hold the Administration accountable for the critical military decisions they made without consent from the Congress.
To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at www.goodlatte.house.gov.