Lawmaker proposes halt to US military action in Libya

Lawmaker proposes halt to US military action in Libya

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[JURIST] US Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) [official website] on Friday announced [press release] legislation requiring an immediate halt to military action in Libya until Congress authorizes its resumption. The Restoring Essential Constitutional Constraints for Libyan Action Involving the Military (RECLAIM) Act [text, PDF] cites Article 1, Section 8 [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the Constitution while declaring that President Barack Obama must obtain authorization before any further military action is conducted. Amash explained the legislation:

Without approval from Congress, and absent an imminent or actual threat to our nation, the President does not have the constitutional authority to take us to war. The RECLAIM Act will enforce the constitutional requirement that Congress approve of an offensive military operation. Until the President seeks and is given authorization from Congress, air strikes in Libya must be halted. Sending our brave men and women into harm’s way demands careful consideration. Whether or not Congress agrees with the President’s decision, initiating this conflict was not his decision to make alone.

The legislation also includes a prohibition on the use of appropriated funding for military action in Libya, but recognizes the “President’s inherent authority to defend the country against an attack or imminent danger of an attack.”

Operation Odyssey Dawn [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], a US-led military operation, has been conducting air strikes against the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for two weeks. The action began after the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1973 [text] earlier this month, imposing a no-fly zone over the country. The mission, as well as US involvement absent Congressional approval, has been controversial. JURIST Contributing Editor Michael J. Kelly [official profile] has argued that Obama has the constitutional authority [JURIST op-ed] to conduct the operation under the 1973 War Powers Resolution [50 USC § 1541 et seq.]. The resolution leaves Obama 92 days to act without Congressional authorization. Congress, however, reserves the right to “pull the plug,” but has never before done so according to Kelly. JURIST Guest Columnist Curtis Doebbler [official profile] has argued that the operation violates international law [JURIST op-ed] by failing to comport with Article 42 of the UN Charter [text], which requires a determination that “measures not involving the use of force” have failed.