Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says he will “vocally oppose President Obama’s handling of the Libyan conflict once Congress returns next week,” National Review reports.
Paul is alarmed at how Obama and his allies have rolled out their war plan. “For a week, this administration indicated that they were not going to do a no-fly zone. Then, when Congress is out of session, all of sudden the war begins,” he says. “We got a note saying, ‘Oh, by the way, we are at war now.’ Nobody really asked Congress to have any participation in the decision-making. That is not what our Founding Fathers intended.”
Legislation, Paul says, may be in the works. “There may be something that comes forward when we come back,” he hints. “There are various ways of addressing this. At the very least, we are going to have a discussion about the president’s own words [from December 2007], that show how he is diametrically going against what he promised as a candidate. We will repeat and recite those words, then let the American people decide.”
Looking ahead, Paul is confident that GOP lawmakers, and members of the Tea Party, will push for more congressional oversight and press Obama on his handling of the conflict. “Even on the Republican side, there are people who are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t Congress supposed to have something to do with declaring war?’” he says.
While Paul acknowledges that the president can and should act during nuclear or terrorist emergencies, “many of us would like to see a process similar to when we declared war against Japan, where within 24 hours Congress was meeting to vote.”
Then there’s this interview exchange between Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dave Weigel of Slate:
SLATE: Has the conduct of the Libya NFZ, so far, passed constitutional muster?
LEE: No, it hasn’t. I’m not happy with the way the president handled it. I think declaring a no fly zone over foreign soil is tantamount to an act of war. The bombardment of Qaddafi’s compound that occurred with that certainly amounted to an act of war. For the president to not come to congress and ask for anything, much less for a declaration of war, I found perplexing. It’s particularly perplexing when you consider statements he’s said before, that the president doesn’t have power under the Constitution to declare war without going to Congress.