H.Con.Res. 51: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya

H.Con.Res. 51

Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya

Date
June 1, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, June 1, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.Con.Res. 51.  The resolution was introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on May 23, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

Bill Summary

H.Con.Res. 51 would direct the president to remove the U.S. Armed Forces from Libya within 15 days of adoption.

Background

The Constitution divides war powers between Congress and the president.  Congress has the power to declare war and raise and support the armed forces, while the president is commander in chief. 

H.Con.Res. 51 invokes an arguably unconstitutional provision of the 1973 War Powers Resolution (P.L. 93-148) to direct an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Libya.  The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing forces to military action and forbids forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.  The 1973 law was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto.

Under the terms of that act, if the president commits U.S. troops to foreign hostilities without a declaration of war or statutory authorization, he must withdraw them within a period of 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes a longer deployment.  A concurrent withdrawal resolution, not requiring the president's signature, can be introduced at any time and must be referred to a committee, which has 15 days to report the measure.  It then becomes pending floor business to be voted up or down within three days.

Every president since Richard Nixon has argued that the war powers law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the president's prerogatives as commander in chief.  This argument was supported by the Supreme Court's decision in a 1983 immigration case that Congress cannot, by disapproval resolutions, alter the rights and duties of persons outside the Congress because that constitutes lawmaking requiring presidential participation.

Congress has used the withdrawal provisions of the War Powers Resolution three times.  In 1993, the House adopted a resolution directing the president to remove troops from Somalia by March 31, 1994.  In 1998 and 1999, the House rejected resolutions directing U.S. troop withdrawals from Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Yugoslavia, respectively. 

Cost

There is no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate associated with this legislation.