President Obama promised to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State Friday, but do not expect him to ask permission from Congress anytime soon. The Daily Beast's Josh Rogin reports:
The administration has now reported to Congress three times under the War Powers Resolution about U.S. military force in Iraq; the first report was filed Aug. 8 and the most recent was filed Sept. 1. The reports notified Congress that the U.S. was waging war in Iraq for four distinct reasons: to protect American personnel in Erbil; to save the Yazidi minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar; to protect the Mosul Dam; and to save the people of the Shiite town of Amirli.
The War Powers clock expires Oct. 8, with a possible extension to Nov. 8. But the administration could argue that each new notification resets the clock and gives the president ongoing authority to attack in Iraq. To most in Congress, that’s disingenuous at best, because the strikes are all part of the same operation and are all against the same foe in the same country.
“It’s called the War Powers Act, not the Single Attack Powers Act. Technically you are not restarting the 60-day clock,” said a senior Senate aide involved in the debate.
During Obama’s war on Libya in 2011, he used military strikes well past the 60- or even 90-day deadline. Then he tried to claim there were no “hostilities” in Libya, to nullify the War Powers Resolution. This time around, Obama’s lawyers were more clever.
“The Libya episode taught him the lesson you can trust on 60 to 90 days, so instead they are trying to press the reset button on the clock,” the aide said. “In the end, the administration wants to hang this on the president’s authority under Article 2 (of the Constitution). The problem is, some of these strikes don’t fall under Article 2.”
“It’s a legal shell game,” a senior GOP senate aide said.
And war isn't the only policy arena where Obama is playing legal shell games to justify his unilateral policy making. At the very same press conference where he promised to destroy the Islamic State, Obama again promised to act unilaterally on immigration. "My expectation is that fairly soon, I'll be considering what the next steps are," Obama said in response to a question about when he will act on the issue.
Earlier reports suggest that the "next steps" Obama is considering include granting temporary amnesty to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants. This despite the fact that Obama once told amnesty activists, "the president doesn’t have the authority to simply ignore Congress and say, we’re not going to enforce the laws that you’ve passed."
Obama has also indicated that, despite never receiving authorization from Congress, he will also use taxpayers funds to bailout insurance companies that are losing money on Obamacare.
Obama never has to face the voters again. Only Congress has the power to check Obama's unprecedented use of executive power through the use of the appropriations process. And there are indications they will do so after November.