Under Article 1, Section 8 ofthe Constitution, the responsibility to declare war rests with Congress alone. The War Powers Act of 1973 further clarified the important separation ofpowers and checks and balances in these matters. Consideration of the President's continued military engagement in Libya is our responsibility as elected representatives in the U.S. Congress, and essential to reasserting the undisputed role and responsibility of the Legislative Branch in overseeing and providing for our nation's commitments while at war.
The United States has now been engaged militarily in Libya since March 19, 2011. While we firmly believe that a robust debate and up-or-down floor vote should have occurred in advance of U.S. military action in Libya, it is without question that such measures are still urgently required. Beyond defending Congressional authority in these matters, these deliberations are essential to ensuring that we as a country fully debate and understand the strategic goals, costs, and long-term consequences of military action in Libya.
Many questions remain unanswered regarding our short and long-term responsibilities in Libya as well as our strategy for ending U.S. military operations. The Department of Defense has indicated that the costs of U.S. military operations in Libya totaled $600 million in the first week alone, and are estimated to mount by as much as $100 million per week in the future. At a time of severe economic distress here at home, as well as in recognition ofthe continued strain on our military service members already engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these concerns are especially worthy ofcongressional deliberation.
It is our position that the President has a constitutional obligation to seek specific, statutory authorization for offensive military action, as he should have done with regard to U.S. military engagement in Libya. We look forward to working with you to address this matter on the House floor as soon as possible.