In 2011, Obama ordered our armed forces to help the rebels in Libya overthrow their leader--Muammar Khadafi. Obama’s actions caused a controversy to rise in Washington; did he violate the War Powers Resolution Act (WPA)? I do not think that he was because the battle was not ongoing, meaning that the 60/90-day period started over each time. Not to mention that no president has ever accepted the WPA since it was passed by Congress. Last, Congress has used the WPA as a way to criticize the president instead of using it the way it was intended. Obama was not exceeding the limitations of being Commander in Chief.
In the War Powers Resolution Act, it is stated that the president must either end, or call off an attack after 60/90 days. During this period, if Congress does not declare war, then the president must withdraw. However, the battle never extended past the 60/90 day period, even though the revolution in Libya lasted beyond that time period. The battle was not ongoing—Obama withdrew the armed forces after each bombing. The US was not always fighting, so, even though Congress didn’t declare war, it was still constitutional to help the rebels.
The War Powers Resolution Act was passed in 1973 after Congress had overridden Nixon’s veto. Since then, no president has agreed with Congress when it came to the WPA. All of the presidents have wanted to deny Congress the right to use the WPA against them. The presidents believe that the law is unconstitutional in two ways; first, the law takes from the president’s power as Commander in Chief and gives that power to Congress. Second, Congress uses it as a legislative veto, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case INS v. Chadha. The Supreme Court has been asked to consider the case several times. However, they have denied the request and told the two branches to resolve it themselves.
Since the WPA’s passage in ’73, Congress has used it to criticize the president instead of using it for its intended purpose. President Obama supported the law as a Senator, but now that he is president, he sees how much the law denies the power of the president and how it makes Congress stronger. Legislative vetoes are unconstitutional, and Congress knows it. But, because the Supreme Court wants to stay out of it, Congress knows that it is off the hook and can keep denying the president of his power as Commander in Chief.
Obama did stay within the boundaries of the strict limitations on his power as Commander in Chief. Plus, Congress is committing an unconstitutional act by using a legislative veto. Then, it all comes down to the War Powers Resolution Act. The unconstitutional, presidential power taking, Congressional power giver, and legislative veto entitling law that started the controversy in the first place. Obama didn’t break the law, Congress did.
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