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"Humanitarian Interventions" Must Have Congressional Approval


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This week I announced new legislation to require Congressional approval before the President could take military action for so-called "humanitarian interventions," where U.S. armed forces might respond to crises abroad but American interests are not directly threatened. The legislation would require the President to obtain formal approval by the Congress before committing the military into such situations, and would also require that debate begin within days of such a request and that a vote must proceed in a timely manner.

Year by year, skirmish by skirmish, the role of the Congress in determining where the U.S. military would operate, and when the awesome power of our weapon systems would be unleashed has diminished. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, especially with the advent of special operations forces and remote bombing capabilities, the Congress seems to have faded into operational irrelevance.

We have now reached the point that the unprecedented - and quite frankly contorted - Constitutional logic used by this Administration to intervene in Libya on the basis of what can most kindly be called a United Nations standard of "humanitarian intervention," was not even subject to full debate or a vote on the Senate floor.

This is not a political issue. We would be facing the exact same Constitutional challenges no matter the party of the President. In fact, unless we resolve this matter, there is no doubt that we someday will.

My new legislation will address this loophole in the interpretation of our Constitution. It will serve as a necessary safety net to protect the integrity and the intent of the Constitution, itself. It will ensure that the Congress lives up not only to its prerogatives, which were so carefully laid out by our founding fathers, but also to its responsibilities.

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