by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
Washington, Apr 19, 2011
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced plans to introduce legislation that will assert Congress’ constitutional responsibility to make decisions about declaring war. He made the announcement in the following letter to colleagues:
April 18, 2011
Earlier this month, President Obama made his case for U.S. participation in a United Nations-sanctioned war in Libya. The President’s Office of Legal Council recently released the Administration’s legal justification for the war, arguing that he was not required to come to Congress for prior authorization because the war is in our national interest and because it is not really a war. But our actions in Libya and the Administration’s failure to seek authorization from Congress, as required by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, cannot be justified.
I intend to offer legislation pursuant to the War Powers Resolution of 1973 that will address Congress’ constitutional responsibility to make decisions pertaining to the use of U.S. military force abroad. Doing so will allow Congress the latitude to make an informed decision under circumstances in which Congress’s predictable desire to support the troops does not skew the debate on the war’s legitimacy.
The costs of this war are already mounting. According to figures recently released by the Pentagon, the war has cost the U.S. $608 million thus far, not including the costs to deploy U.S. Armed Forces to participate in the war in Libya. Experts at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments believe that the U.S. costs could “easily pass the $1 billion mark…regardless of how well things go.” If U.S. “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo is a precedent, we know that the U.S. will continue to bear the majority of the cost of military and post-conflict costs with the United States contributing 25% of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s military budget. During the Kosovo conflict, the U.S. spent $2.8 billion fighting the war, and another $2 billion to replace the munitions it used over Kosovo.
While we may not all agree on the merits of military intervention in Libya, we can all agree that Congress must have the opportunity to have a full and ample debate on the commitment of U.S. Armed Forces to a war abroad. The Constitution is clear: Article 1, Section 8 provides only Congress with the ability to declare war or authorize the use of military force. This institution cannot stand by idly as a war of choice with significant ramifications for our national and economic security is waged in the name of our national interests.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress