On Friday, June 24, 2011, the House is scheduled consider H.R. 2278 under a rule. In addition to providing for one hour of debate on H.J.Res 68 (summarized in a separate Digest), the rule provides for one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Armed Services. Additionally, the rule provides for one motion to recommit on each measure. H.R. 2278 was introduced by Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) on June 22, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
H.R. 2278 would prohibit funds appropriated or otherwise available to the Department of Defense (DoD) from being obligated or expended for U.S. Armed Forces support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Operation Unified Protector with respect to Libya.
Exceptions to the funds limitation would be for the following activities: search and rescue (SAR); intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR); aerial refueling; operational planning; and non-combat missions.
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.
According to information provided by the Administration, the costs of the Libya operations, through June 3, 2011, are as follows: $715.9 million for DoD military operations and humanitarian assistance efforts; almost $81 million for humanitarian activities on behalf of the U.S. Government (USG); and $3,709,673 committed for Department of State Operational Costs. Additionally, the total projected cost for DoD operations through September 30, 2011, which is the end of the second 90-day authorization by NATO, is about $1.1 billion.
The following information on Congress’ involvement and the Libya timeline was provided by the Committee on Foreign Affairs:
- On March 21st, 48 hours after U.S. armed forces engaged in military operations, the President submitted a letter/report to Congress to justify the use of force in Libya.
- On May 20th, concurrent with the 60-day limitation in the War Powers Resolution, the President submitted a letter to Congress providing an update on the status and nature of U.S. military involvement in Libya and urging adoption of a Senate resolution expressing support for military operations in Libya.
- On May 26, 2011, the House passed an amendment offered by Mr. Conyers to the National Defense Authorization Act which prevented funds authorized in the Act from being used to fund ground troops in Libya. The amendment passed by a margin of 416-5.
- On June 3, 2011, the House approved H.Res. 292, underscoring the lack of Congressional authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces regarding Libya; the failure of the President to provide Congress with a compelling national security rationale for the United States military engagement in Libya; and requiring specific information and legal basis justifying the engagement.
- On June 15, 2011, the Departments of State and Defense provided a report and documents regarding U.S. activities in Libya.
- The Administration also submitted a single-paragraph legal justification for the Libya engagement, which boils down to the assertion that “the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because [they]…are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the [War Powers Resolution],” because they don’t involve sustained fighting, U.S. ground troops, or a serious threat of U.S. casualties, and are in support of a multinational coalition “legitimated by…a United Nations Security Council Resolution.”
- Speaker Boehner has stated that the argument -- reportedly made in opposition to the views of DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel -- “just doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” particularly in light of ongoing U.S. airstrikes inside Libya. Furthermore, by its terms, the War Powers Resolution applies not only to “hostilities,” but also to “imminent” hostilities, and to situations where U.S. forces enter foreign territory or airspace “while equipped for combat.”
- Further, despite Administration claims, the June 15th report failed to address the issues raised by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who, in a letter dated June 14, 2011, specifically asked about the legal analysis used to justify the Libya engagement: “Assuming you conducted that analysis, was it with the consensus view of all stakeholders of the relevant Departments in the Executive branch? In addition, has there been an introduction of a new set of facts or circumstances which would have changed the legal analysis the Office of Legal Counsel released on April 1, 2011?”
There is no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate associated with this legislation.