“Shame On Us If We Allow This Act to Stand Unchallenged Any Longer;” McClintock and Congressman Paul Fight the Good Fight on Libya
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
In my last post on Libya, I said there was a bright light of hope in this debate over the Constitution and Separation of Powers, and here it is. You might remember Tom McClintock from the recall election that took down Gray Davis, as the guy they should have chosen to be governor of California, rather than Ahnold. Yesterday, Mr. McClintock gave a firey but firm speech on Libya, and really it is worth listening to the whole thing:
And for those who cannot watch teh Youtubes, Big Government has apparently a word-for-word text copy of it, here. Just to give you a taste:
When the President ordered the attack on Libya without Congressional authorization, he crossed a very bright Constitutional line that he himself recognized in 2007 when he told the Boston Globe “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
The reason the American Founders reserved the question of war to Congress was that they wanted to assure that so momentous a decision could not be made by a single individual. They had watched European kings plunge their nations into bloody and debilitating wars and wanted to avoid that fate for the American Republic.
And indeed, he sent a letter to similar effect, which concludes:
With all due respect, I can only conclude that your order to United States Armed Forces to attack the nation of Libya on March 19, 2011 is in direct violation of the War Powers Resolution and constitutes a usurpation of Constitutional powers clearly and solely vested in the United States Congress and is accordingly unlawful and unconstitutional.
Let’s hope this is a sign of a rising tide against this power grab.
And this wasn’t the only challenge. Senator Paul threw a shoe into the Senate works yesterday in a delicious way:
Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), a Tea Party favorite, has boxed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) into a corner. After a quiet day of quorum calls and speeches, Reid abruptly adjourned the upper chamber Thursday and postponed votes until Monday. According to numerous Hill staffers, Paul deserves some credit for the impasse.
Here’s the back story: On Wednesday, Paul, with little notice, attached an amendment to the small-business re-authorization bill. The amendment, which chastises President Obama for his actions in Libya, urges members to adopt the president’s own words as “the sense of the Senate.”
To make his point, Paul quoted, in the legislative language, from Obama’s 2007 remarks on the subject: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” According to Paul’s office, “the measure aims to put the Senate on record affirming Congress as the body with constitutional authority on matters of war.”
GOP sources tell National Review Online that Paul’s proposal flummoxed Reid, who does not want his members to have to weigh in on Obama’s dusty quote about congressional authority, even if the vote is only to table the measure.
“Paul’s Libya amendment has brought the Senate to a standstill because Reid doesn’t know how to handle it,” one GOP aide tells me. “If he allows a vote, Democrats are forced to either disagree with then-senator Obama or with President Obama. It’s possible that Reid just yanks the bill or files cloture, seems he may do anything to avoid a vote on Paul’s amendment.”
Still, during a testy floor exchange Wednesday with Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), the Kentucky freshman argued that his amendment deserves a vote, and fast. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the complaints from many people on these wars that we were involved in, President Bush did come and ask for the authorization of force,” he said. “We’ve had two to three weeks of this issue. They had time to go to the U.N. They had time to go to the Arab League. They had time to go to everyone. I think you should be insulted the way I am insulted they never came to Congress.”
I’m not a big fan of Ron Paul, although I am willing to tolerate him in Congress because of his desire to radically reduce federal spending would exert a gravitational pull toward reduced deficits, if not toward reduced debt. But I am starting to really like Rand Paul.
Keep fighting the good fight, gentlemen, and let’s hope other Congressmen join you. This is a willful violation of the Constitution on Obama’s part, as in he is doing what he knows to be unconstitutional, and it has to stop.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]