We’re coming up on a special anniversary this week, and it doesn’t have anything to do with The Rapture arriving on Saturday. (Or does it?) Today marks 60 days since President Obama began combat operations in Libya. The significance of this date is being played down a bit among some members of Congress, but as The Hill notes, not everyone.
U.S. operations in Libya hit the 60-day mark Friday, but Congress has grown largely silent on the administration’s unilateral intervention into the war-torn North African nation.
The 1973 War Powers Act (WPA) — the statute President Obama invoked when he launched forces in March — requires presidents to secure congressional approval for military operations within 60 days, or withdraw forces within the next 30.
Congress did not authorize the mission — which includes a no-fly zone, bombing raids, a sea blockade and civilian-protection operations — but the deadline has stirred little sense of urgency on Capitol Hill.
Six Republican senators, led by Rand Paul, have sent a letter to the president asking if he plans on taking note of this law, and from the Left, Dennis Kucinich is hatching his own plan aimed at putting the “time limited” back in this Kinetic Military Action. Still no official response from the West Wing as of this writing, though.
The War Powers Act was ostensibly put in place to allow the Commander in Chief the flexibility of a nimble response to fast breaking situations overseas, and that is certainly an important feature. But it also serves as the fig leaf congress provided itself long after it gleefully and willingly absconded from the legislative branch’s constitutional power to declare war. After all, once the troops are already in the thick of it, it’s fairly easy to pass on the authority to keep going, versus launching the initial action themselves.
Either way, they still have to be involved in the process, and the 30 day clock begins ticking today.