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October 21, 2014

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The Policy Racket

Rep. Joe Heck leading charge to pull troops from Libya

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Justin M. Bowen

Rep. Joe Heck speaks to Veterans at the American Legion Post 40 in Henderson on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

Sun Coverage

The United States' involvement in NATO’s Libya offensive has been the subject of fierce debate since it began, and now that the president’s authority to commit the troops appears to have run out, it’s also inspired a fierce Congressional divide.

The drive to force the president to pull U.S. troops out of Libya is being led by Nevada Rep. Joe Heck.

Heck, a Republican, is pushing a bill that seeks to end the war by cutting off funding for everything short of pulling out of Libya. Ohio’s Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat and one of the most liberal voices in the Congress, is in near lock-step, with an amendment to cut off funding entirely.

It’s a classic exercising of the House of Representatives’ power of the purse: a constitutional last resort of sorts that would allow Congress to stop a military offensive by stopping its financing.

“To date, there has been no clear national security objective articulated,” Heck said of the Libya in the statement he released announcing his amendment. “Without a clear national security imperative, we cannot afford the cost in troops, or taxpayer dollars. Congress must insist President Obama abide by the law and either articulate a clear US national security imperative for our military action in Libya, or end operations there.”

Obama sent the first U.S. planes to Libya in March to support the fight against Libya’s longtime dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, which is being carried by rebel fighters in what’s proved to be one of the most challenging uprisings in the Arab Spring. The idea was that with air cover from the United States and NATO, the Libyan rebels would stand a better chance at marching on Tripoli and unseating Gadhafi.

But lawmakers have protested since the operation began that even if Gadhafi is a tyrant, Libya poses no real threat to the United States, and thus the operation is unnecessary and expensive.

It’s not just lawmakers like Heck. It’s also House leaders, including Speaker John Boehner.

Heck’s measure is a longshot. The Libya operation has cost about a billion dollars so far: cheap compared to the $1.3-trillion bill the country has run up on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The lack of ground troops, and the extent to which the offensive is being carried out by unmanned drones -- including the Predator drones that are stationed in Heck’s home state -- means the threat of American military casualties is almost nonexistent.

(The White House announced today that the president will address the nation Wednesday at 5 p.m. Las Vegas time "to lay out his plan for implementing his strategy ... to draw down American troops from Afghanistan.")

While Heck’s measure stands a good chance of passing in the House, it’ll have to clear a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate to get around the President, who says the Libya mission isn’t a war, and thus isn’t subject to the rules concerning Congress’ war powers.

Already, lawmakers in the Senate seem to be working to help out the president, by throwing up what seem like obvious hurdles to Heck’s plan.

Democrat Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. John McCain introduced a resolution Tuesday that would put a one-year limit on the president’s authority to commit resources to the Libyan offensive and bar him from sending ground forces, but fund and authorize the operations in the meantime.

“The last message any United States senator wants to send is that this mad man need only wait us out because we are divided at home,” Kerry said.

“Is this the time to ride to the rescue of a failing tyrant when the writing is on the wall that he will collapse?" McCain said.

For about long as the United States has had a military, the president and the Congress have disagreed about how deploy it. And while the Constitution may give Congress “the power to declare war”, Congress hasn’t actually done that since 1942.

The way the United States gets involved in military conflicts, more often than not, is by the president committing troops -- and then going and seeking Congressional authorization after the fact.

On Sunday, however, the clock ran out on Obama's use of the 1973 War Powers resolution. Drafted in response to growing national frustration and fatigue over the Vietnam war, the measure proscribes a 60-day window during which the president may commit troops, with a possible 30-days extension; but after that, Congress has to either give its go-ahead, or the troops come home.

Presidents of both parties have declared the resolution unconstitutional. When it was passed, Congress had to do it over then-President Richard Nixon’s veto. Right now, Obama is insisting that it doesn’t apply to the situation in Libya.

Even if it applies in this case, it doesn’t make Heck’s cause easier, at least not before it’s time for Congress to determine defense spending for the next fiscal year, which doesn’t start for another three and a half months.

No one has offered a date when the nation's and NATO’s involvement in Libya will end, because it appears to depend on the situation on the ground. Libyan rebels are reportedly closing in on Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, which would be an advance of about 350 miles from the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi. But Sirte is still almost 300 miles from the capital of Tripoli.

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  1. Seems to me all we get by playing the worlds police is grief. If there is no national security reason to be there we shouldn't be.

  2. Good luck Joe! Your fellow Republicans most likely won't agree with you. That's because the Arms contractors and the friends on K Street will be putting a lot of money in your fellow Republican's re-election accounts.

  3. I agree that it is hard to justify being active in Libya without a solid national security issue at stake.

    That said, if Tripoli were in fact doing something that affects us we should not hesitate to turn the Marines loose and send the message yet again to Tripoli to play nice. (Granted, Tripoli doesn't seem to listen very well, we've had to do this since our nation was born from time to time.)

  4. Good! I'm sure Iraq & Afghanistan are next....

  5. Where was all the outrage when Bush invaded Iran? Hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Not sure if anyone sees this, but I'll throw it out there. And it definitely is the truth.

    My Congressman (Heck) disappeared from view earlier this month when he attacked Social Security and called it (quote) a pyramid scheme (unquote). The resulting backlash, not only locally here in Nevada, but also nationally, overwhelmed him.

    And like any good Republican, what did he do? HE RAN AND HID. Nothing came out of him ever since that happened. Completely out of the media's eyes.

    Now, about a week and a half later, here he finally comes back out. Supposedly leading the charge alongside other Republicans in regards to Libya.

    The Libya issue is a controversial issue, but note that Congressman Heck only marches in lockstep with the Republican Party policy on it. He don't think for himself. Nor for his constituents.

    Don't matter what I think about the issue, but I just want to call out the behind the scenes hardball politics of Congressman Heck. He sure would love it if you conveniently forget his incompetence, idiocy and sheer heartlessness regarding Social Security.

    I'm onto you, Congressman Heck.

    You're bad for my district and an embarassment to Nevada. Sure, you were elected into power, but you weren't popularly elected. You only won by about 1,900 or so votes during an off-President election time when there was poor turnout.

    I'm gonna fix this at the polls next election. I hope others do too. Because after only about 160 or so days in power, there have been over 64 or so bills introduced into the House. Out of those 64, not ONE of them deals with job creation, turning around unemployment rate statistics, helping people, trying to turn it around and fix the economy and God forbid if my brain dead Congressman does anything beneficial for Nevada or CD3. Why? He don't care. He got into power, does only party politics and votes according to what Speaker Boehner wants without even asking questions. "What, Speaker? This button? What does it say? Yes? No? Okay, guess it don't matter. Whatever you say. You want me to hit that one? What am I voting on? Oh. Guess it don't matter. I'll just hit it. You dah boss. You're welcome, Speaker Boehner. Just lemme know when I'm supposed to vote again on somethin'."

    I hope others see this crap. We gotta fix it. Time to notch up the pressure and vote this bum out.

  7. I know that, SgtRock. Thanks for pointing that out though.

    Still don't take away from my original post. Congressman Heck absolutely loves to do this right now in order to deflect attention away from his heartless statement regarding how he wants nothing but the complete and utter dismantlement of Social Security. Even when he apologized in some stupid pamphlet (because he don't like facing his constituents), he STILL doubled down on everything he said about his willingness to destroy it.

    In short, he got called out for it, can't walk it back, but he sure would love for everyone to forget his comment about it being "a pyramid scheme."

    The Libya position is his opportunity to do smoke and mirrors.

    In the Republican world, EVERY SINGLE DAMN THING is about politics. This is a proven fact.

    And I'm tired of it. He don't do anything for Nevada. Just himself.

    We gotta vote this bum out.

  8. Ginger,
    I knew invading Iraq was going to be a horror show but at least I knew it was Iraq and not Iran...

  9. To show how idiotic my Congressman is, just last night, I got yet another robotical phone call where some voice over the phone lines asks for me to participate in some kind of question/answer conference.

    And this robot voice reminds me this phone call is toll free, I can ask my Congressman a question that may or may not get an answer, but the point is that Heck, through his majesticness, gets to pick/choose if he may/may not answer.

    I hung up again. It's like talking to a non-existent person that don't give a crap if you ask a question or not. The main point they want to do is to say they did something so it can be added to some dumb ass statistics that say, HEY! LOOK! I'm doing something! But really they are gaming some kind of stupid system that only shows they are interested in playing imbecelic games; all at the expense of others who don't really give a flying crap.

    Anyways, way before they tried to inform me that I would receive a free 10-piece Teflon pots and pans Vanna White gift set made by Ronco or some crap just for staying on the line and asking questions of my Congressman, I hung up on this stupidness again.

    Because I know, just as other constituents in my Congressional District know, my Congressman is afraid of all of his constituents and he don't want us to ask questions of him face-to-face.

    The truth of the matter is that Congressman is deathly afraid of us voters here in eastern Las Vegas. It's true! I, as well as others, correctly come to the awareness that he fears us. The only way he won't fear us is if we promise to donate money to him. Then for some dumb reason, he thinks we're his friend. Or some other type of stupidity like that.

    Anyways, I hung up on this complete idiocy. It should be noted this is actually the FOURTH robo-call I've received by Congressman Robo Heck. Because we all know it don't make a difference at all. Congressman Heck could care less if we have a steady diet of catfood. He just wants the lame self-serving statistics to show he gives a crap by using some kind of robotic phone call.'

    Folks? This is life in southern Nevada living in a Republican hell.

    THIS is what happens when there is low voter turnout. We get a totally inconsequential imbecile for a Congressman.

    I didn't vote for this guy. And I want him gone. Because...count 'em...FOUR...I've received FOUR robotic phone calls from Congressman Heck. Because he's afraid of us. He won't meet us face to face. But if he was invited on a radio show like Heidi Harris, a right wing knucklehead? BAM! He's there with doughnuts and coffee and ready to spew right wing garbage.

    I'm calling my Congressman....Robo Heck....from now on. Because that's how I hear from him. A robotic non-existent out in the radiowave phone line crap that there is absolutely no way to have a face-to-face with.

    Congressman Robo Heck.

    Sounds like a science fiction flick.

    Congressman Robo Heck.