(CNSNews.com) – While it is too late for Congress to have input on the U.S. bombing in Libya, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would like to see a formal congressional rebuke of President Barack Obama for ordering military action without any authorization from Congress.
“I think a use of force resolution is a moot point, because he’s using force, and he didn’t ask us for permission,” Paul told CNSNews.com. “So really, what I would like to see would be a congressional rebuke of the president for exceeding his constitutional authority and going into war. And I think if this were [President George W.] Bush, you’d have every Democrat lined up to do it.”
Last month, Obama ordered military strikes to prevent the government of Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi from continuing the killing of opposition forces in the country. The U.S. joined allies Britain and France to enforce a no-fly zone approved by the United Nations Security Council and endorsed by the Arab League.
However, the Obama administration never sought congressional authorization to take the military action. Administration officials argue that they consulted congressional leaders and House and Senate committees before the Libyan action.
Paul has called this America’s third war. In an interview with CNSNews.com, he pointed out the other two had approval from Congress.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan – no matter what your opinion on the wars – Bush did come to the Congress, and we had a full vote on authorization of force,” Paul said. “It wasn’t a declaration of war as I would prefer, but it was still a vote in Congress. I think the hypocrisy, not only the president but the entire left-wing bashosphere that bashed Bush forever not one of them is stepping up to say the president’s a hypocrite on this.”
As a presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama told The Boston Globe in December 2007, “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.”
Paul introduced a resolution to use those exact words from Obama as the sense of the Senate. But on Tuesday, the Senate voted 90-10 to table the Paul motion.
“The Democrats all voted to table it, because they’re embarrassed by the president’s words and by his hypocrisy in going back on his words,” Paul said.
He believes that many Republicans and Democrats believe the president must seek congressional authority. But, he was also critical of some Republicans who believe presidential authority should not be balanced.
“Now there are some in the Republican contingent that don’t believe in any limitations on the war making power,” Paul said. “In fact, they don’t like the War Powers Act, but they don’t like anything about limiting the president. They think he has some inherent power to do whatever he wants. That to me is also very worrisome.”
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are reportedly drafting a resolution to support Obama’s action.
“It’s, to me, not a real important vote if you’re just going to be a rubber stamp after the fact,” Paul said. “I don’t think it reasserts any congressional authority to have any kind of debate or vote afterwards. I think the president – had he shown leadership skills – would have called us back into emergency session the week we were out and we would have voted before we started dropping bombs not afterward.”
Paul acknowledged there would be times such as imminent danger, retaliation, rescuing forces or rescuing citizens when a president would have to immediately order a military action. Still, he can imagine few instances where the president cannot go to Congress, considering Congress voted on actions in response to the two worst attacks on the United States – Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
“They say, we don’t have enough time,” Paul said. “There’s almost no reason we can’t be here in 24 hours to vote on something. In World War II, when we were bombed at Pearl Harbor, within 24 hours we voted on a declaration of war against Japan.”
Paul also acknowledged Obama is certainly not the first president to act unconstitutionally in using military force.
“That’s sort of the excuse the other side brings out. They say ‘oh we’ve been in 41 times,’” Paul said. “There probably are a bunch of examples of us going to war without congressional authority, or of getting involved in military conflict if you want to call it less than war. But just because we did it incorrectly before doesn’t mean that we can and should continue to go in without congressional authority. In none of those cases do I remember any of those cases where it couldn’t have been done without a vote.”