House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday evening delivered his strongest criticism yet of President Obama’s decision three months ago to intervene militarily in Libya, saying in a statement that the White House has not sufficiently answered lawmakers’ questions about the mission and that the House may take action as soon as next week aimed at halting the U.S. involvement.
“The American people and members on both sides of the aisle have concerns about the mission in Libya and questions that have gone unanswered by this White House,” Boehner said in a statement late Friday, two weeks after the House passed a resolution rebuking Obama and giving the president 14 days to respond to lawmakers’ questions. “While the President responded to some questions earlier this week, it is unfortunate that he specifically chose not to respond to an important question about whether the Office of Legal Counsel supports the White House’s extraordinary legal basis for ongoing military operations in Libya.”
“Despite the constitutional concerns anyone may have with the statute, the War Powers Resolution is the law of the land and cannot be simply ignored, Boehner added. “The White House’s suggestion that there are no ‘hostilities’ taking place in Libya defies rational thought. Now, its decision to conceal the opinion of the OLC raises even more concerns.”
Boehner earlier this week had sent Obama a letter requesting information on the OLC’s position on whether U.S. involvement in Libya is constitutional. The letter followed several weeks of escalation between some members of Congress who have questioned the constitutionality of Obama’s action on Libya and the White House, which has repeatedly defended its actions. Administration officials have argued that Obama sufficiently consulted with congressional leaders both before taking action and throughout the 90-day mission.
Boehner said Friday he was responding to a letter sent by Obama in response to the speaker’s concerns.
That letter, Boehner said, was insufficient -- and the House may respond by taking legislative action as soon as next week.
“The House of Representatives will not allow the White House to continue skirting its obligations to the American people, this Congress, and the laws of this nation,” Boehner said. “Over the coming week, our members will review all options available to hold the administration to account.”
Among the options available are a measure to defund the U.S. mission -- as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said he plans to do with an amendment introduced Friday to a defense appropriations bill. Boehner, too, has suggested that Congress’ leverage in the Libya debate rests in its control over the executive pursestrings.
Further action by the House will likely have to wait until Tuesday, when the lower chamber returns to Washington.