Which Congressional Caucus Most Strongly Supported Constitutional War Standards in 2011?

According to Article I Section 8 of United States Constitution, the Congress and only the Congress is given the authority to declare war. No other person or body in government — not the Supreme Court, not the President — is the authority to do so anywhere in the Constitution. The first war in Iraq, the second war in Iraq and the Afghanistan war, for instance, have all been supported by congressional authorization.

Last year, President Barack Obama took the country to war against Libya in a sustained military campaign without congressional authorization. On June 3 2011 the House of Representatives held a vote on H.Con.Res. 51, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich that required the president to seek and obtain congressional authorization for his military campaign in Libya. That’s a constitutional standard. But the bill went down 265-148. Why? Who voted Kucinich’s bill down? Did this action match their rhetoric?

There are three congressional caucuses that explicitly reference support for the Constitution in their founding documents: the Tea Party Caucus, the Constitution Caucus and the Progressive Caucus.

The voting record for these caucus members stands as follows:

Tea Party Caucus members voting YES, to require congressional authorization: 30 (50%)
Tea Party Caucus members voting NO, to NOT require congressional authorization: 30 (50%)

Constitution Caucus members voting YES, to require congressional authorization: 31 (42%)
Constitution Caucus members voting NO, to NOT require congressional authorization: 43 (58%)

Progressive Caucus members voting YES, to require congressional authorization: 38 (56%)
Progressive Caucus members voting NO, to not require congressional authorization: 30 (44%)

Despite clear references to defending the Constitution in each of these caucuses’ founding documents, substantial proportions of members of each caucus voted to let President Barack Obama take the country to war without congressional say-so. Ironically, the caucus least likely to insist upon constitutional procedure was the Constitution Caucus. The Tea Party Caucus was evenly split on whether the constitution should be followed. Only the Progressive Caucus had a majority of members who insisted on following constitutional procedure before taking the nation to war.

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