Obama administration to Congress: US forces not facing ‘hostilities’ in Libya

President Barack Obama at the National Defense University, March 28, 2011.

From Julie Pace, the AP:  The White House is vigorously defending President Barack Obama’s right to keep the U.S. military engaged in Libya without seeking congressional approval , a move that appears to have done little to soothe anger among Republican lawmakers and anti-war Democrats over the president’s consultations with Congress during the nearly three month-long campaign.

In a report sent to Congress on Wednesday, administration officials argued that because the U.S. is in a supporting role in the NATO-led bombing mission, American forces are not facing the "hostilities" that would require the president to seek congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution. That 1973 law prohibits the military from being involved in actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension.

The report, which put the cost of U.S. military operations at about $715 million as of June 3, with the total increasing to $1.1 billion by early September, did little to appease lawmakers who have been critical of Obama’s dealings with Congress throughout the Libya campaign.

"I’m sure Sen. Barack Obama would have disagreed if he were serving at this time," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he was amazed that the administration did not believe U.S. forces were facing "hostilities" in Libya, saying generals have told lawmakers otherwise in classified briefings. . . .

"U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors," the report said.  (photo: Getty)

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