Boehner Claims Obama Is Violating War Powers Act, Two Weeks After Saying Obama Complied With Law

Today in a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told the Commander-in-Chief that he must explain to Congress the legal basis for participating in NATO’s air campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi within the next five days:

Five days from now, our country will reach the 90-day mark from the notification to Congress regarding the commencement of the military operation in Libya, which began on March 18, 2011. […]

[I]t would appear that in five days, the Administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution unless it asks for and receives authorization from Congress or withdraws all U.S. troops and resources from the mission.

According to the War Powers resolution, a president who commits the U.S. military to war must explain his or her legal reasoning within 60 days. The 60-day period could then only be extended to 90 days if the president comes to Congress requesting more time to end the military campaign in question.


Obama has not made any such certification effort. So the White House has technically been in violation of the Act since May 18. Yet on June 1, Boehner said that the President was in compliance with the Act, Politico reported at the time:

The Ohio Republican told reporters on Wednesday that Obama was “technically” in compliance with the War Powers Act, despite criticism from the left and right over U.S. involvement in the Libya campaign.

“There are a lot of questions that remain out there, and frankly I think members on both sides of the aisle are looking for answers about this, and they’re looking for some clarity,” Boehner said. “Legally, they’ve met their requirements [under] the War Powers Act.”

Boehner’s letter today appears more about political grandstanding than any real concern about violating the War Powers Act. Indeed, even some in his own party have warned about playing politics with the war. “I would say to my Republican friends: If this were a Republican president, would you be trying to impose these same conditions?” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asked.