House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday blasted a White House report justifying military action in Libya without congressional approval, suggesting that he may cut off funding for the operation.
“There are a number of options, I think, that we are looking at,” Boehner said. “But the ultimate option... Congress has the power of the purse.”
Boehner criticized the Obama administration for arguing that the U.S. military is not at war and therefore does not need to seek congressional approval as outlined under the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The Ohio Republican noted that U.S. drones are attacking Libya and $10 million is being spent every day on the mission.
“It doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities,” Boehner said. “It’s been four weeks since the president has talked to the American people about this mission. I think it’s time for the president to outline for the American people why we are there, what the mission is, and what our goals are.”
Boehner said he’s still waiting to hear from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel on whether it agrees with Obama’s position that U.S. military involvement does not require congressional approval.
But Boehner may not be hearing from the White House anytime soon.
"I don't anticipate further elucidation of our reasoning, because I think it was quite clear," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Carney also took aim at Boehner, noting that in 1999 Boehner questioned the legality of the War Powers Resolution as Congress debated U.S. involvement in the Balkans.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck shot back that “it is Boehner’s responsibility to see that the law is followed, whether or not he agrees with it.”
Buck also noted that Obama invoked the War Powers Resolution in a 2007 speech as a post-Vietnam War safeguard that would ensure Congress "would not repeat its mistakes."
This article appears in the June 16, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.