Libya Rebuke Expected Today: Why Republicans Are Going About it Stupidly
With a new Gallup poll showing the public is already tired of our "support role" in Libya, the House Republicans are poised to issue a rebuke to the president and pass a bill that will cut off funds for drone strikes. The bill will not be passed in the Senate and, thus, will not become law, so John Boehner wants NATO to know that the vote is just for show and not to take it seriously.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the House action was intended as a symbolic gesture and sought to reassure the NATO alliance that U.S. forces were not likely to withdraw.
“We are engaged. I believe that NATO is an important organization, and as we’re there, I don’t want to do anything that would undermine NATO or to send a signal to our allies around the world that we are not going to be engaged,” he said. “This is primarily a fight between the Congress and the president over his unwillingness to consult with us before making a decision.”
I support rebuking the president for his failure to follow the law, but this is an awfully dumb way to do it. The way the House Republicans have structured this, they will vote not to authorize the mission and then they will vote to cut off any funds for anything that could be construed as an offensive operation. But those two votes both indicate a lack of support for the mission in Libya, and that's not the message Congress really wants or needs to send. The issue here isn't whether or not the U.S. should be supporting NATO or carrying out drone strikes, because Congress does not want to abandon NATO at this juncture. The issue is whether the president should have sought explicit authorization from Congress, and whether he should seek that authorization now.
The administration has stated that it would like authorization even though it doesn't feel it is required. Congress could oblige them and limit the precedent the president has created. Or they could simply censure him, since this is clearly not an impeachable offense in this particular case. Voting to cut off funds for a mission that Congress actually supports is stupid, undermines the mission, and, despite Boehner's excuses, sends the wrong message to both NATO and Gaddafi.