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Congress Needs to RECLAIM Constitutional Authority
A week ago President Obama, without Congressional approval, committed our armed forces to an international conflict in the nation of Libya. Today Congressman Amash (R-Mich) and I are introducing the RECLAIM Act to reclaim Congressional authority to declare war that is so clearly proscribed in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution; we urge all members to join our effort. Under the guise of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, President Obama claimed the United States must intervene to “prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.” While those aims are laudable, we cannot intervene everywhere we find injustice. Constitutionally, it is indisputable that Congress must be consulted prior to an act of war unless there is an imminent threat against this country. The President has not done so. Approval from the Arab League, the EU, and United Nations does not mean the American people approve.
The RECLAIM Act does two simple things: ceases the use of force in, or directed at, the country of Libya by our Armed forces and halts all use of funds used in the force against the country of Libya. This bill DOES NOT allow an open-ended conflict. It DOES NOT leave us vulnerable to a “Tonkin Gulf”, “Nueces Strip” or a “Black Hawk Down” situation, meaning, it does not leave the United States armed forces in a vulnerable situation to be attacked, thus forcing our hand to retaliate. We’ve already come too close, with one plane having crash-landed—what if those pilots had died or ended up in enemy hands?
Not only are these actions unconstitutional, they are unfathomable when we are facing a $14 trillion debt. The first night of this attack, we fired 112 Tomahawk missiles. Each of these missiles can cost up to $1.5 million. That’s $168 million for one night’s assault. Libya is more than four times the size of Iraq; we spent $2.1 billion a year enforcing a no fly zone there. Estimates to maintain the no-fly zone can cost $100 million to $300 million per week. We cannot afford another open ended conflict overseas.
This is a bipartisan measure to RECLAIM and restore the American peoples’ faith in the balance of power, faith in the constitution, and—when trust in government is at record lows—faith in the United States Congress. Presidents have long abused their prerogative to conduct foreign affairs on behalf of the United States. From Truman intervening in Korea, JFK’s invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Reagan’s involvement in the Iraq-Iran war; George HW Bush in Panama and Somalia; Clinton in Somalia, Kosovo, Serbia; George W. Bush in Pakistan. The American people elected us to serve in a co-equal branch of the federal government. It is time we act like it.