Despite the Biden White House submitting notifications to Congress of military strikes on Houthi rebels to comply with the War Powers Act, the Pentagon asserts that it is not at war with the Iran-backed Yemen militants.
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh was directly asked by journalists last week if the nation was indeed at war. This came after several launches against aggressive forces in Yemen.
In response, she declared, “We are not at war with the Houthis. In terms of a definition, I think that would be more of a clear declaration from the United States.”
However, the Biden administration has twice complied with requirements set forth by the War Powers Act. The White House by law must report such military actions to Congress “in the absence of a declaration of war.”
These must come within 48 hours of committing the nation’s forces to “hostilities or situations where hostilities are imminent.” The War Powers Act grew out of legislative resistance to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
The Oval Office must also provide clear reasons for the necessity of armed intervention.
Bipartisan Group of Senators Question Biden’s Yemen Strategy and Constitutional War Powers
The statement from Senators Kaine, Murphy, Lee, and Young said, “The Administration has stated that the strikes on Houthi targets to date have not and will not deter the Houthi attacks,… pic.twitter.com/i1fbBOIHaL
— Kyle Anzalone (@KyleAnzalone_) January 24, 2024
In an escalation of congressional opposition to the White House action, a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday sent a letter to Biden. The four asked under exactly what legal authority he ordered airstrikes on Houthi rebels.
The missive was signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Todd Young (R-IN).
The four condemned Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the volatile region. However, they questioned the legality of the White House attacking rebel positions when their missiles primarily hit international targets.
The letter declared, “There is no current congressional authorization for offensive U.S. military action against the Houthis…Unless there is a need to repel a sudden attack, the Constitution requires that the United States not engage in military action absent a favorable vote of Congress.”
There is also concern in the House from such disparate lawmakers as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). Both questioned the Democratic president’s authority to call for such military action without congressional approval.
Administration national security spokesman John Kirby brushed aside lawmakers’ concerns. “We’re very comfortable and confident in the legal authorities that the president exercised to conduct these strikes.”