John Kerry, the Democrat Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, and John McCain, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, will introduce a resolution today in an attempt to legitimize Obama’s invasion of Libya.
June 19 marked 90 days since Obama called for U.S. intervention under a humanitarian pretense. According to the War Powers Act, the president must wait on Congress to pass a resolution after 90 days.
McCain took to the Senate floor and said the measure would authorize Obama to advance U.S. “national security interests” as part of an international coalition attempting to unseat and even assassinate Gaddafi. The authority would be limited to a year, according to the Associated Press.
Kerry and McCain introduced the resolution in order to head off an attempt by the House to defund the operation. The effort began after Obama ignored Congress and did not seek a formal declaration of war, as stated under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution.
Congress has not issued a formal declaration of war since the Second World War. The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the president.
Four of those five declarations came after hostilities began.
During the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase “make war” was changed to “declare war” in order to allow the executive branch to respond promptly to sudden attacks without approval of Congress or a formal declaration of war.
Resolutions have been ignored and violated in the past. For instance, in 1971 when Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, then president Nixon ignored the will of the people and continued to wage war in Vietnam. In response, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution over a Nixon veto.
“The Constitution does not permit any president to decide unilaterally to overthrow foreign governments, redraw the world’s map, and put the national survival of the United States in jeopardy by committing us to a potential fight to the death with another sovereign nation,” writes Ken Klukowski. “Only Congress can make that decision, authorizing the president to use our military to wage war. Once authorized, only the president can actually order the military to attack. This is a two-step safeguard; both steps must be met before America goes to war.”
McCain and Kerry are introducing a resolution that will attempt continue Obama’s unilateral effort to overthrow the regime of Gaddafi. Instead of a formal declaration of war, they are attempting to pass a resolution that will eventually be ignored.
“I would be the first to admit that this authorization is not perfect, and it will not make everyone happy. It does not fully make me happy,” McCain said on the Senate floor, adding that he preferred that the resolution called the U.S. to commit more air power to the effort.
“That said, this authorization has been a bipartisan effort,” he added. “My Republican colleagues and I have had to make compromises, just as the Senator from Massachusetts and his Democratic colleagues have had to do. The end result, I believe, is an authorization that deserves the support of my colleagues in the Senate, on both side of the aisle. And I am confident they will support it.”