Dennis Kucinich’s War Powers Act vote to end US involvement in the war in Libya, known as House Concurrent Resolution 51, will get a vote in the House tomorrow. In a letter to supporters, Kucinich laid out his reasons for calling up the vote:
This vote shouldn’t be necessary, of course. The United States Constitution requires congressional authorization to go to war. The administration has disregarded the Constitution. Instead, they have spun the conflict as a minor intervention or as part of NATO, but the fact remains that we’re bombing another country and we pay, by far, the largest percentage of NATO’s military bills. This is a war that we’re leading – and it’s a war that violates our Constitution and the War Powers Act. It’s time we end this war.
Congress must find its voice and the American people must call upon Congress to take the Administration off the war path.
Prior to this, Congress has been fairly unwilling to even talk about the war in Libya, let alone allow for a War Powers resolution. Even when President Obama asked for a resolution of support from Congress for the mission in Libya, the House was slow to respond. However, now they will allow this privileged resolution to come to the floor. And last week, House Republican aides were genuinely unsure of whether or not it would pass.
Of course, any concurrent resolution would also have to pass the Senate, which is fairly unlikely. But this is a direct challenge to the war powers of the executive, and represents one of the few instances where Congress has asserted their own role in this debate. This is less about Libya than about the Constitutional responsibility of the legislative branch. If it did manage to pass, the President would have to abide by the wishes of Congress, or spark a Constitutional crisis.
Last week, by a massive vote of 416-5, the House approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would bar the use of any US ground troops in Libya. Since then, Western armed men have been seen on the front lines near Misurata, but the speculation is that they are British. Intelligence personnel from Britain and the United States are assumed to be on the ground in Libya.