(L to R): Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Democratic Delegate Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands and Rep. Joe Payne of New Jersey. (Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/Landov)
California Representatives Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters are calling on Majority Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to hold a debate and vote on President Obama’s authority to continue use of military force in Libya.
“Many questions remain unanswered regarding our short- and long-term responsibilities in Libya as well as our strategy for ending U.S. military operations,” they wrote in a letter to Boehner that three members of the Progressive Caucus also signed. “At a time of severe economic distress here at home, as well as in recognition of the continued strain on our military service members already engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these concerns are especially worthy of congressional deliberation.”
They believe that Obama had a “constitutional obligation” to seek congressional authorization before engaging in Libya. And according to Lee, several members of both parties agree. They object not only to the fact that the president bypassed them in the decision-making process, but also to the cost. Lee said the U.S. could conceivably spend up to $ billion on in Libya, which she finds particularly egregious given rising African-American unemployment figures and bitter partisan debate on Capitol Hill over deficit reduction that is putting several much-needed programs that help minority communities at risk.
“This wasn’t about challenging the president. When you have a debate, the public knows the pros and cons—how much it’s going to cost and the end game, if there is one,” Lee said. “It’s about exercising our constitutional responsibility, and out of that debate, sometimes solutions come that may not require military force.”