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Obama’s Libya Policy Makes Strange Bedfellows Of Congressional Critics

Huff Post- Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel

First Posted: 03/21/11 03:48 AM Updated: 03/21/11 08:43 AM

WASHINGTON — As the United States expands its military imprint on the international intervention into Libyan airspace, members of Congress have begun sounding the alarm over the lack of regard being paid by the president to the legal and advisory roles of the legislative branch.

On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered his endorsement for a no fly zone over Libya. Conspicuous in his statement, however, was the threat to disrupt future operations should the president not consult Congress first.

“Before any further military commitments are made,” Boehner said, “the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission.”

A top GOP leadership aide clarified that Boehner wasn’t insisting that Obama needed congressional authorization for the use of military force in Libya. “The focus,” said the aide, “is on Congressional consultation.” At an off-camera briefing hours later, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called such a request “fair” while arguing that it had been met by the president.

But Boehner’s remarks still underscore the domestic political limits Obama faces as he executes, what aides insist will be, a limited, internationally-led military intervention in Libya; which, this weekend, included cruise missile attacks and air strikes. While the majority of lawmakers who have spoken publicly say they support America’s involvement in the U.N.-backed mission (some Republicans wishing it had come sooner), several influential voices have argued — as Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee did — that the President “has an obligation to explain” operational objectives to Congress.

Lower on the leadership ranks, a strange-bedfellows coalition of progressive-minded pols and Tea Party members has emerged, not only raising doubts about the underlying strategy but the legality of it as well.

“I think [the president] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah.) told The Huffington Post. “I see no clear and present danger to the United States of America. I just don’t. We’re in a bit of the fog at the moment as to what the president is trying to ultimately do.”

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