Congress asks President Obama to Define his Mission in Libya


Caryn Freeman 2:49PM EST
Many members of Congress are in an uproar over the president's use of the war powers resolution to bypass Congress and engage in military action in Libya. On Monday, Obama sent an official letter to Capitol Hill informing Congress of the military actions and invoking his authority under the War Powers law But many members have stated that they feel this is unconstitutional and that the letter did not fulfill the requirement that constitutes the use if the war powers resolution.

Members in both the House and Senate and on both sides of the isle are asking the Administration tough questions about recent action concerning air strikes in Libya. During a Monday press briefing, the president’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, responded to congressional frustration over the level of consultation this way:  “First of all, consultation with Congress is important, as I said. Secondly, the administration welcomes the support of Congress in whatever form that they want to express that support. Third, as I indicated during the course of the briefing, this is a limited — in terms of scope, duration and task — operation, which does fall in the president’s authorities. Fourth, the circumstances arose with the passage of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, the night before a congressional recess. So he did, even with that, call Congress — those who remained in town on Friday and those who are out of town — on the phone to consult with them.”

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed that the strikes are appropriate, but called on Obama to explain his plan to Congress. “The violence against the people of Libya by Muammar Qadhafi is unacceptable, and it must end. The United States stands with those who seek freedom in that country and around the world. But we must have a coherent strategy anytime we utilize U.S. military force abroad,” Ellmers said. “Now that President Obama has ordered airstrikes and engaged the U.S. military in Libya, he needs to provide more information to Congress and to the American people.”