Sens. Webb, Corker Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Looking for ‘Justification’ for Libya Operation

Jun 8, 2011 7:09pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Senators Jim Webb, D-Va., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced a joint resolution today requiring a “detailed justification” of the U.S. operation in Libya from the administration.

The resolution calls on the president to request authorization for the continuation of U.S. involvement in NATO activities and states that Congress should fully debate such a request expediently. 

Parts of the resolution draw on language in the legislation passed in the House of Representatives last week, where the president faced a similar Democratic revolt.

“The president has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya,” the resolution states.

The senators call for an unclassified report to provide essential information to evaluate the nation’s involvement in Libya and appropriately debate it, and it asks 21 questions of the president “critical to determining whether the engagement in Libya is critical to the vital national interest to the United States.”

Webb said on the Senate floor today that this precedent has the potential to haunt the nation for decades.

“The issue in play here is not simply whether the president should ask the Congress for a declaration of war, now is it wholly whether the president violated the edicts of the War Powers Act, which in my view he clearly has,” Webb said. “But the issue for us to consider is whether a president – any president – can unilaterally begin and continue a military campaign for reasons that he alone has defined as meeting the demanding  standards of a vital national interest worthy of risky American lives and spending billions of dollars of our taxpayers money.”

The White House has continued to say that they have acted within the 1973 War Powers Act Resolution, which requires the president to obtain congressional authorization within 60 days of the start of military operations. The military intervention in Libya started on March 19 and Congress was notified on March 21. Those 60 days expired on May 20th.

“The president followed no clear historical standard when he unilaterally decided to use force in Libya,” Webb said. “Once this action continued beyond his original definition of days, not weeks, he did not seek the approval of Congress. And while he has discussed this matter with some members of Congress, this administration has not formally conferred with the legislative branch.”

Corker said today that the president is “sidelining” Congress, and not even answering members' questions. 

“This is not consultation, nor is the president heeding the concerns of his own constituents,” Corker said on the Senate floor today. “This is an unacceptable way to treat a co-equal branch of government that is granted certain responsibilities to our Armed Forces from the founders of our country.”

The next step procedurally is that this will be referred to committee first. Webb’s office says the senator believes the Senate should debate this on the floor as a stand-alone measure “expeditiously,” and he will work with the Democratic leadership to that end.

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