Ed Driscoll

Senate Bait and Switched into Time-Limited, Response-Limited Kinetic Military Police Action?

Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner writes:

Last week, minutes after President Barack Obama explained to the nation why he took the country to war, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) posted a statement on YouTube first noting Obama’s 2007 claim that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation” and then adding: “Unfortunately, President Obama has failed to heed his own advice. He has ignored our constitution and engaged us in a military conflict without congressional debate and approval.”

But the day before on This Week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News’ Jake Tapper: “The United States Senate called for a no-fly zone in the resolution that it passed on March 1st.”

So who is right? Did the president go to war without any approval from the Senate, as Sen. Paul says? Or did the Senate approve the president’s use of military force, as Secretary Clinton claims?

The answer involves a secretive Senate procedure known as “hotlining.”  Hotlining is a system that allows legislation to pass by “unanimous consent,” usually in the evening, when almost no Senators are present.  Prior to a bill’s consideration, the Democrat and Republican Cloakrooms send out hotline notices – automated phone calls and emails – to key staff.  The hotline notices typically include the bill number, so members can look it up and review its contents.  However, in the case of the Libya, the resolution was not made public until the day after the Senate approved it.

In a sense, it’s a bit like like how ObamaCare was passed via “Deem and Pass,” thus making this perhaps the first-ever moral equivalent of a moral equivalent of war.

In any case, with the Senate today defeating Paul’s resolution reasserting Congress’s war powers by a whopping 90-10 vote, presumably this is all academic anyhow, as Allahpundit writes:

McConnell, Kerry, Levin, Lieberman, and McCain are reportedly mulling a real authorization resolution for the Libya mission. If it’s 90-10 against Paul on this, I assume a genuine AUMF will have no trouble passing. [Click over to Hot Air for video of] Paul’s floor speech in support of his measure this afternoon. Exit quotation: “The new motto of Congress appears to be, ‘Tread on me. Please, tread on me.’”

Besides, it’s it’s all George Bush’s fault anyhow — just ask that sage of Illinois, Dick Durbin.