By Erik Wasson
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in an interview has backed President Obama's assertion that continued military operation in Libya to oust Col. Moammar Gadhafi do not need congressional authorization.
Reid's opinion differs sharply with that of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who believes that Obama now needs authorization under the War Powers Act to continue operations.
“The War Powers Act has no application to what's going on in Libya,” Reid said on the PBS Newshour on Friday evening.
He said “we have no troops on the ground there, and this thing's going to be over before you know it anyway, so I think it's not necessary.”
Durbin on Thursday told reporters that the air war in Libya constitutes hostilities under the Act and Obama needed authorization starting 60 days after the operation started.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Obama overrode the advice of Pentagon and Justice department lawyers in deciding not to seek congressional authorization.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has threatened to defund the Libya war but Reid dismissed this threat in the interview.
“I don't think John really believes that we should stop our actions in Libya. I mean, this madman is just that: He's a madman. The sooner he goes, the better off. And I don't think people should play around with this. We do not want Gadhafi running Libya, and so I think the speaker should be very careful about these threats,” Reid said.
Reid said that he is “confident” there will be a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan and that he estimates there will an announcement on that within weeks.
“We've got provinces now in Afghanistan that have been turned over to the Afghanis and we should continue along those lines and start bringing our troops home. They need to come home,” he said.
On Saturday suicide bombers attacked a Kabul police station, killing nine.