And the second one hasn’t worked on Obama so far.
Unhappiness in Congress was magnified Saturday by a report that Obama ignored some of his legal counselors when he decided last week that the Libya campaign should not be counted as “hostilities.”
That decision allowed him to bypass the 1973 War Powers Resolution, a law that requires presidents to report to Congress on any ongoing military conflict within a limited period of time. After receiving the report, Congress then has to decide whether to authorize the action taken.
On Saturday, sources familiar with the deliberations said Obama had not overruled a formal opinion from the Justice Department’s
Office of Legal Counsel — because there wasn’t one. They can take months or a year to put together.
Instead, the sources said, advisers presented him with their opinions and he chose one that White House counsel and the State Department favored.
Still, many in Congress said they were not persuaded by Obama’s logic for avoiding a congressional debate over the three-month-old conflict.
“The president has had to go through legal contortions because he knows he faces a Congress that would not give him approval,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He has proposed a resolution
that would allow Congress to formally “disapprove” of the Libya operation. “This has to be stopped,” Turner said.
This week, the Libya debate will become a key test for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who appears caught between his members and his own instincts. In the House, legislators from the ideological right and left have demanded a showdown with Obama. But Boehner has seemed wary of a confrontation. When members rallied around a bill to stop the campaign this month, he authored a resolution that gave Obama 14 more days to make his case.
Obama waited 12 days. And then, on Wednesday, he told Congress he didn’t need its permission.
“U.S. military operations [in Libya] are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by” the War Powers Resolution, a White House report said.
The logic was that U.S. forces are mainly limited to supply, logistics and intelligence missions — although American drones continue to attack Libyan targets.
On Saturday, sources said Obama had solicited opinions on the matter from the Pentagon, the State Department, White House counsel and the Office of Legal Counsel, which is set up to provide independent legal analysis.
Advisers from the Pentagon and the Office of Legal Counsel, the sources said, believed that the drone strikes required that the Libya operation be described as “hostilities.” Advisers from the State Department and the White House believed they should not.