With House Vote, Welch Supports Mission In Libya

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch has voted to support President Obama’s military policies in Libya.

He backed legislation that would ensure future funding for the mission – that bill passed. He also voted for a bill that specifically authorized the President’s military actions, but that legislation was defeated.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more:

(Kinzel) The War Powers Act was passed during the Vietnam War in 1973 and it requires a President to obtain Congressional approval for military actions that last more than 90 days.

That deadline expired last weekend concerning President Obama’s mission in Libya, however the President maintains that the Act doesn’t apply to his policies, in part, because no troops have been sent to Libya.

The U.S. House took two votes on the President’s policies. One was good for the White House – the other was not.  The first vote preserves funding for the mission.  But the second vote rejected a plan to formally authorize the President’s military actions.

Congressman Welch voted to maintain the funds and to authorize the military mission:

(Welch) "This resolution that I voted in favor of reasserted war powers so the Congressional responsibility was asserted by the Resolution itself. We don’t need permission from the White House to assume control of our view of that application of the War Powers Act. But secondly, this mission I believe does have justification and every one of these decisions has to be made obviously on a case by case basis."

(Kinzel) Welch says there are four reasons why he supports the mission; it’s needed to prevent the slaughter of innocent Libyans, it has broad international support, it’s limited in scope, and reasserts Congress’s authority under the War Powers Act:

(Welch) "There’s always a very difficult choice that has to be made whenever you’re going to use force. Do you do it, can you limit it, can you keep it focused on what needs to be done and what realistically can be done. And you always also have to make that decision mindful of what they consequence of inaction is. There’s a price of action, there’s a risk of action, but there’s a price of inaction and that’s what each of has to weigh."

(Kinzel) And Welch says Congress needs to be watchful that this mission doesn’t get expanded beyond its current limited scope:

(Welch) "That is a legitimate worry because we have seen examples of that in the past and they way that we have to guard against it is by being aggressive and vigilant and demanding accountability from the President…so that’s a responsibility Congress has but it is one that it can exercise."

(Kinzel) The U.S. Senate is expected to review both of these issues in the next few weeks.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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