WASHINGTON - Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced Military Humanitarian Operations Act Monday, a bill designed to ensure that presidents cannot use humanitarian crises as a loophole around the War Power Act.
“The Founders placed the power to declare war squarely in the legislative branch so that it would reside in the body most accountable to the people,” Sen. Lee said. “Unfortunately, some presidents have used humanitarian crises as a justification for the unilateral use of military force. For example, in 2011 the executive branch cited the prevention of “an imminent humanitarian catastrophe” as a central tenant for unilateral authorization of engagement in Libya, a mission that well-exceeded the 60- day limit set by the War Powers Act. We need to close this separation of powers loophole.”
The Military Humanitarian Operations Act would require the president to secure congressional authorization before deploying U.S. armed forces for a military humanitarian operation. Military rescue missions of U.S. citizens (including military and diplomatic personnel) abroad, humanitarian missions in response to natural disasters where no combat hostilities are reasonably anticipated, and armed forces training exercises are exempted.