Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Resolutions Could Resolve Libya War Powers Face-Off, For Now ...

Congress' months-long feud with the White House on Libya is likely to come to a head later this week.

Votes coming up in the House and possibly Senate ($$) will weigh in, finally, on whether or not to authorize the use of force in Libya. But they are unlikely to do much to settle the age-old dispute about how much Capitol Hill should be able to influence decisions to go to war (or "hostilities" or "kinetic military action" or whatever the kids are calling it these days).

Last week, the White House tried to argue that military operations in Libya were not "hostilities" of the sort that would trigger the 1973 War Powers Act, a line of reasoning House Speaker John Boehner's staff called "creative," at best. Boehner introduced two measures Tuesday - one that would authorize the mission and one that would in effect de-authorize it, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Libya.

Leading Senators, however, are pushing for a vote authorizing limited military engagement, and they have an impressive bipartisan roster of support for their effort. So it seems the worst Congress will do is send a mixed message on Libya -- certainly not helpful for Obama politically or for international PR on the coalition efforts in Libya. But it's also not the sort of thing that's likely to force White House action, let alone any resolution over the battle between the branches on war powers.

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