WASHINGTON –- House Speaker John Boehner is spending Saturday golfing with President Barack Obama in a highly publicized show of bipartisan camaraderie, but their outing comes less than a day after the Ohio Republican was threatening more headaches for the president on Libya.
Boehner announced late Friday that he plans to hold votes this week aimed at challenging Obama's authority to carry out U.S. military operations in Libya without congressional consent. He gave no details on specific actions.
"From the outset of this operation, Members of the House have demonstrated respect for the authority granted to the Commander-in-Chief," Boehner said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the President has not exhibited a similar appreciation for Congress' important job of providing oversight and accountability. Even worse, he has failed to communicate to the American people why continuing this mission is critical to our national security."
"Over the coming week, our Members will review all options available to hold the administration to account," he wrote.
Boehner's vow comes on the heels of a New York Times report that Obama rejected the views of Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers when the president concluded he has the legal authority to proceed in Libya without congressional approval.
That report is only fueling the criticisms that Obama faces from another faction of lawmakers, led by progressive Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who filed a lawsuit last week challenging the president's authority to bypass Congress on war matters. Kucinich has also vowed to force a House vote in the coming weeks to cut off funding for Libya. Specifically, he plans to offer an amendment to the Defense spending bill that challenges the White House's argument that bombing operations and support of other countries' military operations do not constitute war.
"We have the makings of a Constitutional crisis when the president, who as a U.S. Senator acknowledged the duty of a president to come to Congress for permission to conduct a war, simply changes course on his interpretation of the War Powers Resolution and determines to conduct a war absent Congressional authorization, even when it is contrary to the best legal advice of the Pentagon and the Justice Department," Kucinich said in a Saturday statement.
During a Thursday briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney hinted at disagreements within the administration on Obama's legal authority to carry out military operations in Libya without violating the War Powers Act. He described administration officials' discussions as "robust" and said "there was a full airing of views" among lawyers in the room.
"It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict," Carney said. "That discussion is ordinary and healthy."
Congressional Democratic leaders are largely supporting the White House's stance that it can proceed without Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she is "satisfied" by the limited role the U.S. is playing in the international effort. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that Obama isn't breaking any laws.
"The War Powers Act has no application to what's going on in Libya," Reid said on PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." "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."