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Webb Proposes Bill For Congressional Approval On Military Conflicts

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U.S. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb gestures while talking to journalists during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy.
AP Photo/Khin Maung Win
U.S. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb gestures while talking to journalists during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy.

When the Obama administration sent battleships, planes, and hundreds of bombs into the conflict in Libya, it claimed it wasn't involved in a war; it was merely conducting humanitarian intervention.

The United Nations voted to support the no-fly zone that NATO controlled over the besieged country, but Congress never weighed in. That had lawmakers in both parties smarting. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) says no president should have that power, and has introduced legislation to limit the executive branch's ability to get into military conflicts without congressional approval.

"To give one individual such discretion ridicules our Constitution," Webb says. "It belittles the role of the Congress."

Webb's legislation would require explicit congressional approval for any military conflict the U.S. enters. It also requires lawmakers to begin debating the resolution within days of the conflict's start. Besides the president, Webb is also scolding his fellow lawmakers, especially party leaders who never held a vote on whether to authorize military force in Libya.

"To accept this rationale is also to accept that the Congress no longer has any direct role in the development, and particularly in the execution of foreign policy," he says.

Webb's legislation would also require Congress to hastily approve or disapprove of any military conflict.

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