Lugar Challenges Obama Administration on Libyan War Authorization

Press Contact : 

Mark Helmke • 202-224-5918 mark_helmke@lugar.senate.gov www.facebook.com/senatorlugar www.twitter.com/senatorlugar


Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following series of questions to the Obama Administration one week before the deadline expires for the required Congressional authorization for U.S. military action in the Libyan civil war.

“We are nearing the end of the second month of U.S. military involvement, including a bombing campaign, in Libya’s civil war.  Congress has yet to have an appropriate debate or vote on the President’s objectives, or the risks, and costs associated with these operations, and their relationship to U.S. interests.  Nor has the Administration consulted adequately with Congress on these matters to date.

“In testimony yesterday before the Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg stated:

‘As we come closer to the end of the second month of operations, we are actively reviewing our role going forward.  Throughout, the President has been mindful of the provisions of the War Powers Resolution and has acted in a manner consistent with it.  He will continue to do so, and we look forward to continuing to consult with Congress on our role in the coming days.’

“It is important that the Administration carry through on these commitments.  Under the War Powers Resolution, the President may not introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities for periods exceeding 60 days without Congressional authorization.

“In consulting with the Congress on these matters, it will be important for the Administration to provide clear answers to questions about our involvement in Libya that it has not yet adequately addressed, including:

  • What is the current nature and extent of our military role in Libya, including what personnel and assets are involved, what attacks they are conducting, what targets they are hitting, and what damage is resulting?
  • What military role does the Administration intend the United States to play in Libya in the period after 60 days from the commencement of U.S. military operations in Libya?
  • What costs will the United States incur for current and planned future military operations in Libya?  Secretary Robert Gates estimates that the United States has already spent $750 million.
  • Can our NATO allies fulfill the primary combat mission in Libya over an indefinite period, and how will the Administration respond if allies request greater military involvement by the United States?
  • What scenarios or emergencies would cause the United States to re-escalate its military involvement in Libya, and would the Administration seek a Congressional authorization if it expands its military role? 

“The Administration will also need to explain in greater detail its plans for seizing and distributing blocked Libyan assets.  Given that such steps are generally reserved for assets of enemies during time of war, what implications would this have for our broader policy toward Libya? 

“Extended engagements in military action abroad, and the costs and risks they entail, must be undertaken only with the full support of the American people.  If the Administration seeks to continue our military involvement in Libya, it is incumbent that they seek and secure Congressional authorization.”

###