Defense Secretary Robert Gates told House lawmakers today that the U.S. will put “no American boots on the ground” in Libya as part of U.S. involvement in military action against the forces of Moammar Gadhafi. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Sec. Gates also answered questions about Obama Administration consultations with Congress ahead of the mission, as well as whether the U.S. has plans to arm Libyan rebels.
Joining the Secretary was Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. California Republican Buck McKeon chaired this two-and-half hour hearing.
In the afternoon, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen also testified in the Senate. After the hearing, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-MI), told reporters that the U.S. should not be the lead country in charge of military operations. "We are in two other wars," Levin said.
Ranking member of the committee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), was one of several Senators who told Sec. Gates that the U.S. should continue to lead military operations.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this morning also to answer Libya-focused questions.
Also today, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is the sponsor of a measure to defund the Libyan mission, spoke on the House floor regarding the U.S. military's role in Libya. He says President Obama violated the Constitution by not seeking authorization from Congress for engaging the U.S. military.
"Today we are in a constitutional crisis because our chief executive has assumed for himself powers to wage war which are neither expressly defined nor implicit in the Constitution, nor permitted under the War Powers Act," Kucinich said. "The President has no right to wrest that fundamental power from Congress - and we have no right to cede it to him."
The testimony and floor speech come one day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen held a closed-door briefing for lawmakers.
After that briefing, some members expressed concern.
About military actions in Libya, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) said, "This is, in my opinion, bologna."
He said Congress should have been briefed, and he said Secretary Clinton dismissed lawmakers' concerns and said the War Powers Act does not require Congressional authorization.
Not all members share that sentiment. After the briefing, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said he was pleased with the information given by the administration. He said the U.S.'s actions in Libya are "thoughtful" and "measured."