The War Powers Act of 1973 requires the president to end any foreign military intervention within 60 days of reporting the start to Congress unless the Congress “has enacted a specific authorization for such use of the United States Armed Forces.”
This is particularly important because today is the 60th day of the Libyan War, and no such authorization has been granted. Starting tomorrow the war is in violation of the letter and spirit of the law.
But President Obama seems to be hoping to skirt this requirement with a request, made late this afternoon, for Congress to authorize the conflict. Needless to say, Congress will not be voting on such a request late Friday evening.
And indeed, for the first 59 and a half days, the administration gave absolutely no indication that such an authorization would be sought. Officials even cited the 60 days as recently as last week as a justification for not consulting Congress about the war, even though it seems poised to last many months if not years.
A last second request is not all that was required by the act, but for an administration that entered the war with amazing haste and amazingly little planning, such dubious moves are increasingly par for the course.