Here’s the back story: On Wednesday, Paul, with little notice, attached an amendment to the small-business re-authorization bill. The amendment, which chastises President Obama for his actions in Libya, urges members to adopt the president’s own words as “the sense of the Senate.”
To make his point, Paul quoted, in the legislative language, from Obama’s 2007 remarks on the subject: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” According to Paul’s office, “the measure aims to put the Senate on record affirming Congress as the body with constitutional authority on matters of war.”
GOP sources tell National Review Online that Paul’s proposal flummoxed Reid, who does not want his members to have to weigh in on Obama’s dusty quote about congressional authority, even if the vote is only to table the measure.
Paul’s amendment sparked an interesting exchange with Sen. “Little” Dick Durbin;
Mr. PAUL. On December 7, 1941, we were attacked and the President declared war. We had a session within 24 hours. On 9/11, we were attacked by people coming from Afghanistan. We met within 3 days and had a use of force authorization. I think there is a problem with sort of saying it is OK to declare that the President can go to war after he has already done it.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the complaints from many people on the different wars in which we are involved, President Bush did come to ask for the authorization of force. We have had 2 to 3 weeks of this issue. They had time to go to the U.N. They had time to go to the Arab League. They had time to go to everyone. I think the Senator from Illinois should be as insulted as I am that they never came to Congress.
The War Powers Act has specific criteria that allows the President to use force: a declared war, when he has use of authorization, or when we are in imminent danger. Which one of those meets the War Powers Act with regard to Libya?
Mr. DURBIN. The Senator is correct in his statement that not only President George Herbert Walker Bush but also President George W. Bush came to Congress and broke precedent. That had not happened in Korea or Vietnam. We went back to what I considered to be the constitutional standard. Congress deliberated on those wars and voted.
As Ace said, “What? Bush “broke precedent” by following the Constitution?”
Rand Paul’s speech below;