‘Respect our role’
At the House hearing Wednesday, several lawmakers blasted Obama as ignoring the resolution — and, by extension, ignoring Congress.
“They won’t even acknowledge the 60th day . . . the day on which they began violating the law,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.). “The fault is also here with Congress. So many of us would like to evade the tough decisions.”
Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) testified before the committee about his own proposed resolution, which would express the “sense of Congress” that Obama should seek explicit authorization for the operation in Libya.
“If you’re going to go to war and send our troops into harm’s way, you need us — and the American people — on board,” Rooney said, summing up the idea behind the War Powers Resolution. “What we’re asking for is simple — that the president respect our role.”
Almost since the War Powers Resolution was passed, presidents have been trying to ignore it. Ronald Reagan missed the 60-day deadline when he sent Marines into Lebanon in the 1980s, and Bill Clinton missed it when he ordered airstrikes in Yugoslavia in 1999.
But scholars said Obama has gone further — by doing less.
Other presidents made arguments about why the deadline shouldn’t apply to them, often saying that the law is an unconstitutional limit on the commander in chief.
Obama has not done even that.
“President Obama has clearly violated the letter of the law. And nobody’s really jumping up and down that much,” said Peter Spiro, a law professor at Temple University.
Obama’s lack of response, Spiro said, “does take this final step of not even bothering to go through the motions.”
Staff writer Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.