Pelosi: Obama Doesn't Need Congressional Authorization for Libya Action

By Nicholas Ballasy | June 16, 2011 | 2:40pm EDT

( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is “very protective of congressional prerogative” regarding military action but believes that President Barack Obama did not need Congress’ authorization to take action against Libya and does not need it today to continue with the operation.

“Let me respond by saying I’ve always believed that it’s very important to respect the prerogatives of the Congress in terms of being involved in any military action, A. B, that the consultation between the executive and the legislative branch is essential whenever we engage in a military action. I believe the limited nature of this limited – of this engagement -- allows the president to go forward,” Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday.

“Now, I am reviewing the report he has, that they have sent to the Congress – the unclassified is in the public domain -- I’m going over the classified aspects of it,” she said.  “But I think that part of that report shows an interaction and consultation with Congress and I’m satisfied that we can continue in the limited role that we have as part of NATO. If we had boots on the ground, mano a mano, that’s a different story.”

Pelosi continued, “I’m satisfied that the president has the authority he needs to go ahead and I say that as one very protective of congressional prerogative and very supportive of consultation all along the way.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) then asked Pelosi, “Madame Leader, you’re saying that the president did not need authorization initially and still does not need any authorization from Congress on Libya?”

She responded, “Yes.”

Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) have filed  a lawsuit against President Obama, which argues that he violated the law by not seeking congressional authorization for the U.S.-led Libya mission.

“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” said Kucinich.

The complaint says, “This is an action for injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the Plaintiffs and the country from a stated policy of Defendant Barack Obama, President of the United States, whereby a president may unilaterally go to war in Libya and other countries without the declaration of war from Congress required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution.”

Republican Reps. Howard Coble (N.C.), John Duncan (Tenn.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Ron Paul (Texas), Tim Johnson (Ill.) and Dan Burton (Ind.), and Democratic Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Michael Capuano (Mass.) have also backed the lawsuit.

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