A bipartisan group of lawmakers has filed a federal lawsuit against President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, asking a court to prevent the administration from using U.S. funds for military action in Libya.
The lead plaintiffs, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., filed the lawsuit at U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, as the White House prepared to deliver a report to Congress to address a June 3 House resolution calling for Obama to answer what his ultimate goals are in Libya and why he hadn’t sought congressional authorization for U.S. troop involvement.
The White House did not address specific concerns raised in the lawsuit but noted that the administration is moving to do so.
"I would simply say that the report that we will be sending out to Congress later today answers a lot of questions that members have, continues a process of consultation that has been broad and deep and consistent," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
From the onset of the Libya mission, the White House has underscored that U.S. involvement would be limited, and noted that American forces contribution has centered on providing NATO command with intelligence capabilities and refueling of aircraft enforcing a no-fly zone.
In addition to Kucinich and Jones, the plaintiffs are Democratic Reps. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and John Conyers of Michigan; and Republican Reps. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Dan Burton of Indiana, Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Duncan of Tennessee, Tim Johnson of Illinois, and Ron Paul of Texas.
"For too long, the Constitution has been put on the back shelf for so long when it comes to the issue of war," Jones said in an interview with National Journal. "I’m sure the drafters of the Constitution would be with us. For too long the Congress has stood in the stands and not been on the field when it comes to the issue of the war."
Among the arguments made in the 36-page lawsuit, the lawmakers contend that the president violated the law by going to war in Libya without a declaration of war from Congress as required by the War Powers Resolution. They also argue that the administration is violating the North Atlantic Treaty, which “allows only for military actions in defense of a member state” and requires that any U.S. involvement in a NATO action occur only in “accordance with [the] respective constitutional processes” of the United States.
Kucinich and Jones failed to move a resolution in the House earlier this month that called for ending U.S. involvement in Libya within 15 days of passage.
But Obama is under increasing pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to answer critical questions about the military action in Libya. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner wrote Obama to warn him that he will soon be in violation of the War Powers Resolution.
It remains to be seen if the White House’s expected report on Libya—which is expected to be delivered this afternoon—will do enough to assuage congressional concerns about the conflict.
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