By Mike Lillis - 06/16/11 04:23 PM EDT
President Obama did not require Congress's approval to launch attacks in Libya, nor does he need congressional authorization to keep U.S. forces there, the top House Democrat said Thursday.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the White House violated neither the Constitution nor the War Powers Resolution when it launched military operations in the war-torn African nation in March without Congress's endorsement.
"If we had boots on the ground … then that's a different story," Pelosi added. "I don't think they should stop the support that they're giving to NATO to stop the humanitarian disaster."
The remarks are a stark contrast to those delivered Thursday by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who suggested the House might cut off funding for the Libyan operation if the administration doesn't answer more of Boehner's questions about the mission.
Obama has been under fire from members of both parties since he launched the Libya campaign in March while Congress was on recess. The administration has said the operation was necessary to save thousands – even tens of thousands – of civilians from government troops controlled by longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The Pentagon quickly ceded control of the mission to NATO, but has retained forces in support of the international intervention.
On Wednesday, the administration gave party leaders the legal reasoning behind its belief that the War Powers Resolution is not applicable to the Pentagon's foray in Libya, emphasizing that the mission is now run by NATO, with U.S. forces playing just a supporting role.
"The White House claim that the war is not war is not a legal argument," Kucinich said in a statement. "It is a political argument."
Boehner also slammed the report, saying some of the administration's claims don't pass "the straight-face test."
“The White House says there are no hostilities taking place, yet we’ve got drone attacks underway, we’re spending $10 million a day, [and] part of the mission is to drop bombs on [Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi's compound,” Boehner said. “That doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities.”
Pelosi said she hasn't read the entire document but has been receiving a steady stream of classified updates on the Libyan situation. As long as those communications continue, she said she'll continue to support the mission in Libya.
"Consultation between the executive and the legislative branch is essential," she said.