Friday, June 17, 2011

White House: Don't Expect Any Changes on Libya Sunday

The White House will disregard the 90-day troop withdrawal deadline Sunday under the War Powers Resolution, even amid the squawking by some in Congress, including supporters of the NATO-led air campaign targeting Moammar Gadhafi's forces and facilities.

"We’re obviously not changing our position. NATO extended the mission a number of weeks ago by 90 days. We are participants in the NATO mission, and our position is very well known," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today.

"What we have said is that our role in this mission, our support role and the kind of engagement that we have right now, does not meet -- in our legal analysis -- does not meet the threshold set by the War Powers Resolution that requires congressional action," Carney said, repeating the position the administration issued this week.

"I’m not going to speculate about what the Libyan situation will look like in 30, 60, 90 days, or six months, or anything like that. But we are participants in this coalition. NATO has extended the mission to continue to fulfill the goals set forward by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, and we continue to participate in it," he added, using language that had to ease concerns at alliance headquarters in Brussels.

Lawmakers in favor of the Libya action, like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durban (D-Ill.), think President Obama is misplaying his hand with Congress.

"Congress alone has the constitutional authority and responsibility to declare war," Durban said today, while pushing for a resolution that would end the role of the U.S. in NATO by the end of the year.

The White House had no immediate comment on Durban's proposal.

"I think that every President has said that they don't respect the constitutionality of the War Powers Act but they've always complied. He should comply with it. There's a lot of ill will here that he went to the Arab League and NATO and the U.N. without coming to Congress," McCain added on Fox News.

"So I think it would be very beneficial if he came to Congress and we pass a resolution that says we approved of not sending ground troops, but not prohibit, because that would be unconstitutional," McCain added.

The President will have a chance to discuss Libya with another critic -- House Speaker John Boehner -- when they play a friendly round of golf this weekend. Boehner, another lawmaker who has gone on the record in support of Libya, has threatened to cut off funding for the mission, even though the White House is paying for it with the existing Pentagon budget.

McCain believes Obama has made more egregious mistakes, but contends "Gadhafi is crumbling and I believe he will go."

"The President has made a mess of this situation by not sending U.S. airpower, by not declaring a no-fly zone when it counted, by not recognizing this Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice to the Libyan people, and a number of other mistakes," McCain said.

Obama does have powerful allies who feel Gadhafi cannot hold on much longer, including the backing of the man who controls what bills are considered in the Senate.

"This thing will be over before we know it," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid told The NewsHour on PBS tonight.

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