Cardin: Obama should seek authority on Libya
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said Monday he believes President Barack Obama erred in not requesting authority from Congress for the ongoing military effort in Libya despite the administration's stance that it does not need that approval.
"First, I disagree with President Obama," the Maryland Democrat, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an address to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs. "I believe the war powers have been triggered. I think President Obama should come to Congress for authorization."
The comments, which reflect growing bipartisan concern over the Libya effort, came on the eve of a hearing by the Foreign Relations Committee on legislation that would authorize the U.S. to continue limited operations in the country for one year. Cardin was one of 10 original sponsors of that resolution.
On Friday, the House of Representatives voted against two resolutions on Libya — one that hewed closely to the Senate bill and would have authorized a one-year extension of the U.S. military operation, and another that would have ended funding for that effort. Both resolutions failed on bipartisan votes.
"I'm not sure what the House is doing," Cardin said. "In the Senate, we want to be very clear."
Obama argues that the administration does not need authorization from Congress under the Constitution or the 1973 War Powers Resolution because of the limited scope of the effort in Libya.
Cardin's comments were part of a broader address on human rights and the recent uprisings in the Middle East. He spoke at the World Trade Center in the Inner Harbor.
Days after Obama called for reducing by 33,000 the number of troops in Afghanistan, Cardin suggested the U.S. would be better off directing some of the money spent on that war to domestic programs or deficit reduction. Cardin has called for a faster draw down of forces than the timetable set by the White House.
Cardin also had sharp words for Pakistan, echoing a bipartisan chorus in Congress that has been skeptical of the country's partnership in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Many lawmakers have balked at Obama's request for $3 billion in additional aid for Pakistan next year.
"I can tell you that the budget process could be pretty brutal on Pakistan this year," Cardin said. "There's anything but an agreement to provide the type of aid to Pakistan in this budget year. It will certainly be conditioned in a much stronger sense."