Republican Senators Blast Growing 'Isolationism' Within GOP Over Libya
WASHINGTON -- In appearances on Sunday talk shows, several top Republicans rebuked members of their own party for backing "isolationist" foreign policy by pushing to end U.S. military operations in Libya.
The comments follow a push from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and several House Republicans to require President Obama to obtain Congressional approval to continue U.S. military action in Libya. During a debate in New Hampshire last week, Republican presidential hopefuls, including Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.), were critical of the Libyan operation, and former Massachusets Gov. Mitt Romney (R) also espoused support for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declined an opportunity to criticize Boehner, but spoke out strongly against the comments from GOP presidential candidates.
"I was more concerned about what the candidates said in New Hampshire," McCain said. "This is isolationism ... If we had not intervened, Gaddafi was at the gates of Benghazi ... our interests are our values, and our values are that we don't want people needlessly slaughtered."
"I will be no part of an effort to defund Libya," Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said on NBC's "Meet The Press" program Sunday.
McCain said that while there is "war weariness" in the country, some of the Republican opposition to the Libyan conflict was driven by political motivations, rather than a sincere foreign policy disagreement.
"It certainly is also a bit of partisanship," he said.
The senators' comments gave rare Republican political support to an Obama administration policy. But Liz Cheney, who also criticized growing "isolationism" within the party on "This Week," reserved criticism for Obama as well.
"The president, the commander-in-chief, is not leading," Cheney said, insisting that Obama needs to do more to explain to the American people why the U.S. is engaged in a third major military conflict.
Under the War Powers Act, passed in 1973, Congress must authorize a U.S. military action within 90 days of its initiation. Sunday marks the 90th day of U.S. military involvement in Libya. Boehner and House Republicans have joined some anti-war Democrats in attempting to use the War Powers Act to curtail the Libyan war.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) emphasized on "Meet The Press" Sunday that the Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war, not the President.
But both McCain and Graham challenged the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, claiming it "is not worth the paper it's written on."