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Libya concerns heat up

June 03, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com
  • Rep. Brad Sherman, 29th Congressional District, at a candidates forum in the council chambers of Burbank City Hall on Wednesday, October 27, 2010. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Rep. Brad Sherman, 29th Congressional District, at a…

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is one of the most outspoken critics of President Obama over the White House's failure to seek congressional approval for the United States' role in air attacks on Libya.

The attacks started on March 19. The War Powers Act, passed in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, requires the president to seek the approval of Congress within 60 days of committing U.S. troops to combat.

White House officials have said they are meeting the separate requirement of conferring with Congress about use of the military, and the president has said repeatedly the role in Libya is limited and will not involve ground troops.

Sherman, whose district includes Burbank, said that is not enough.

“Even if it is for the worthy goal of bringing democracy and the rule of law to Libya, we should not shred democracy and the rule of law in the United States,” Sherman said. “I've seen chatter from the White House saying we don't need a formal vote. I think what they really believe is that what they are doing in Libya is good, and following the U.S. Constitution could screw it up.”

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On Thursday, Sherman tried to force the White House's hand by amending a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security. The amendment, which would have barred the agency from spending money in support of the Libyan effort, failed 213-208.

If and when the White House introduces a War Powers resolution, Sherman said he would support the measure if it limited the time and scope of the Libyan effort, contained a provision to use Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's personal assets to help defray the costs of combat and pushed for the Libyan government that would replace Kadafi to exclude people with terrorist ties.

“I could vote for some specific, limited authority for Libya, and I wouldn't mind if I lost and Congress gave the president more authority than I think we should,” Sherman said. “This is not just about Libya. We are marching toward an imperial presidency.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has also expressed concern about Libya, saying “it is hard to see where the endgame is” with the military effort there.

Schiff voted against Sherman's proposed amendment Thursday, but said he would like to see a War Powers Act vote.

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