By Robert Costa
As Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) ratchets up his opposition to President Obama's handling of the Libyan conflict, Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), the chairman of the Homeland Security committee, tells National Review Online that he will not press the White House on constitutional grounds.
"The president has the absolute constitutional right to send troops in," King says. "I am not a supporter of the War Powers Act. A president, especially in this day and age, has the right to use American forces without going to Congress first." He argues that his view is the "traditional conservative position."
That being said, King urges the president to make his case on Capitol Hill. "He has not formulated a policy," he says. "He should go to Congress, now, to get approval and lay out what the strategy is and what the goals are." Obama, he adds, has potentially jeopardized the mission by not fully explaining the intervention and by publicly limiting military options. "He should not have said that he will not use ground troops. I don't think that he should use them, but I would not have announced that up front."
If the president sees the United States remaining involved in Libya for more than this initial no-fly zone, King would like the House to vote on further action as soon as possible. "If we are going to be there for an extended period, he should send a new resolution up to Congress, which would involve a debate and him making a national address. But if we are only going to be there for another three or four weeks, then we can tough it out -- any more than that, then he should get congressional approval."
With the House out of session, King says he does not know whether any debate is brewing within the GOP caucus about how to handle the question of constitutionality. "I have not heard too much," he says. "As far as I know, there has not been a party-wide conference call. But certainly, when we get back, there will be discussion."