Senator Mike Lee Threatens to Invoke War Powers Act Over Latest Developments in Ukraine

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Utah Senator Mike Lee said Thursday that “President Biden is arguably walking the U.S. up to the line of war and daring Russia to shoot first” and that the Senate may have to invoke the war powers act.

In a thread on Thursday, Mike Lee tweeted that “I’ve been trying to figure out what this means. Bottom line up front: President Biden is arguably walking the U.S. up to the line of war and daring Russia to shoot first” in response to President Biden’s authorizating the deployment of thousands of reservists to Ukraine in Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Lee tweeted that “10 USC 12304 gives the President the authority to “augment” the forces of any “named operational mission” to active duty for NOT MORE THAN 365 consecutive days”. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Operation Atlantic Resolve has actually been around since 2014, and is an “official “named” U.S. military mission that deploys forces on a rotational basis mainly to the Baltic states and Poland”, Lee tweeted.

Lee said that while it doesn’t appear that there are any forces on the ground currently in Ukraine, “The active-duty activation and deployment of these additional forces is a dangerous provocation, knowing full well NATO’s Eastern Flank is adjacent to active hostilities.”

Lee said “Not only does this run the risk of further locking us into supporting Ukraine, now the military-industrial complex will say the US military presence is THE one thing preventing Russia from crossing NATO’s eastern border & that we have to maintain such presence indefinitely”.

Operation Atlantic Resolve, according to Mike Lee, “probably means a long-term security guarantee. Another endless war but this time by proxy” and that “one could argue that unilateral troop activations/deployments like this—into areas of active or imminent hostilities—should be treated as a breach of the War Powers Act. Regardless, this makes me really uneasy.”

The War Powers Act states that, unless Congress has declared war, the U.S. military and members thereof cannot be “introduced in hostilities or in situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances” unless:

  • they are repelling an armed attack on the U.S., its territories and possessions;
  • they are taking “necessary and appropriate retaliatory actions in the event of such an attack”;
  • they are forestalling the direct imminent threat of such an attack;
  • they are providing protection for evacuation of American citizens; or
  • they have “specific statutory authorization,” such as the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

Lee did acknowledge that a resolution passed under the War Powers Act could be vetoed by the president. To override such a veto it would require a two-thirds vote from both houses of Congress, meaning it would have to be a bipartisan effort and would require at least 18 Senate Democrats to overrride the potential veto.

If the war powers act were to fail, Mike Lee suggested that the “option of defunding, but that’s tricky too because spending legislation is also subject to presidential veto”, according to The Blaze.

Mike Lee is no stranger to working with the other side of the isle to find a bipartisian approach. In 2021 he was part of a bipartisian legislative effort that would allow Congress to reclaim “its rightful role as co-equal branch on matters of war and national security.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) praised the legislation and said at the time that Congress had “acquiesced to the growing, often unchecked power of the executive to determine the outline of America’s footpring in the world.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was also part of that effort.


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