WAMU: Tomorrow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be addressing members of the House and Senate. This appearance comes after an intense meeting with President Obama last week. What kind of reception do you expect Netanyahu to receive on the Hill?
DH: Well, probably pretty enthusiastic. Clearly the president was having to row back all weekend what he said about Netanyahu got to town about making the so-called 1964 border basis – talks with the Palestinians over territory.
The president went to APAC last night to try to get back on the right side of this issue, and to try and back away. Republicans are solidly in Netanyahu's camp on this. They wonder why the president did this. And so Netanyahu will get a solid reception from the Congress. Republicans will cheer; democrats will probably cheer as well. It's sort of a photo-op that gives the Prime Minister just want he wanted before he goes back, which is just sort of the sense that he triumphed over here.
WAMU: Meanwhile, a bi-partisan group of senators is working on a deal to authorize the on-going action in Libya. What's the status of that, and what are the prospects of moving ahead?
DH: This is one of these arguments that go back decades. The prospect of being commander in chief, which is the president's job and actually raising the army and the navy, which is what the constitution tells Congress it has to do. And there's this law called the War Power Resolution that was put in place during Vietnam when Congress didn't like how Nixon and Johnson had been conducting the Vietnam War unilaterally.
The President has 60 days after he begins some sort of military intervention. In the case of Libya that passed over the weekend, members of Congress want to come in and say belatedly we give the president permission to do this. Because if they don’t, Congress will look pretty neutered. So probably in the next few days, some sort of measure of support for the policy will go through.
WAMU: Of course, when the action over there first started, we did hear some sort of complaint from some members on the Hill regarding the fact that they weren’t consulted. Why has there been a delay in Congress over making their voices heard?
DH: I think the Congress is very reluctant to cross the president after he has put troops in harms way. They're very reluctant to do anything that could be portrayed politically as having hurt the troops – by sort of endangering them, by suggesting to the rest of the world that the United States is not behind them. So Congress has sat on its heels waiting for the president to do this because they didn’t want to pick a fight unless they absolutely had to. And they thought this might be over within 60 days. And they thought that kind of resolution wouldn’t be necessary.
WAMU: This comes also as Congress is working on a defense authorization. What’s at the center of that debate?
DH: Really the Congress is much more interested in Afghanistan rather then Libya. The annual defense debate will be on the House floor for much of the week. And the big amendment will be on whether to withdraw from Afghanistan. This is likely to draw more Republican votes than the president is expecting.