Rep. Van Hollen: Congress Guarding Against ‘Mission Creep’ in Libya

By Kristina

Mar 28, 2011 2:26pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

As President Obama prepares to address the nation on military operations in Libya, some of his allies in Congress are growing anxious for further clarity on the scope and limits of the mission.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Chris Van Hollen told us that while the president acted within his powers in ordering the attack, members of Congress need assurances that the actions are “limited” and will not include the deployment of US ground troops.

“I do not think the president overstepped his authority,” Van Hollen, D-Md., told us. “The president was working with the international community and had to respond in a very rapid fashion to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians in Libya.”

Moving ahead, he said, “we’re all looking very much … forward to what he has to say tonight. There are of course concerns that this mission not result in ‘mission creep,’ and there’s nobody that I know of that supports the notion of putting any US ground forces on the ground. We want to make sure this is as limited and focused a military action as possible.”

Van Hollen said he and his colleagues may push to have the mission approved in a formal way by Congress.

“Of course there’s concern” inside Congress about the president’s actions to date, he said. “There are a number of options available. I mean, people may want to take up a resolution with respect to the use of force in Libya. But that will be a conversation that takes place between Democrats and Republicans in the House, and in the Senate of course.”

“I think the president has taken the path that he had to take. And now it is his responsibility to address the nation, as he is going to do tonight.”

On the looming (again) budget stand-off, Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said while there is agreement that another short-term patch isn’t the solution, “that’s where the agreement ends.”

“Speaker [John] Boehner is really been sort of captured by the Tea Party wing of his party and the House of Representatives … You have this sort of situation where instead of having the speaker whip his caucus, the Tea Party element of his caucus is whipping the speaker.”

Watch the interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen HERE.

Also today, we chatted with Politico’s Glenn Thrush about the president’s challenge in outlining his case for military action in Libya, plus the dance he’ll have to perform to explain why the action doesn’t set a precedent for future circumstances. 

Watch the segment with Glenn Thrush HERE.


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