WASHINGTON — Just days before President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner play golf together to work on their relationship, their staffs engaged in a war of words Thursday, accusing one another of hypocrisy in their fight over the U.S. military role in Libya.
The clash came as the leaders of the two major parties prepared for their first ever round of golf on Saturday. Aides said the social outing was set up to improve their working relationship, particularly as the two struggle to forge an agreement over how to rein in federal budget deficits and debt.
Obama will be joined on the golf course by Vice President Joe Biden, who's leading bipartisan budget talks with Congress. Boehner, like Obama an avid golfer, will be joined by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Before they even get to the first tee, though, the two camps took shots at each other over the war in Libya — particularly over whether the War Powers Resolution ties the president's hands in waging war.
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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Boehner's view of the War Powers Resolution now is far different than it was in 1999, when Boehner didn't think the same law should limit President Bill Clinton's use of the military in Kosovo.
Now, Carney said, Boehner is using the Vietnam War-era law to criticize Obama and force him to justify to Congress the continued U.S. involvement in Libya past the 60-day mark, after which the law requires congressional approval.
In a 1999 statement, Boehner said, "The president of the United States is, and should remain, the chief architect of America's foreign policy and the commander-in-chief of our armed forces.
"Invoking the constitutionally-suspect War Powers Act may halt our nation's snowballing involvement in the Kosovo quagmire. But it's also likely to tie the hands of future presidents...."
Boehner's office shot back with an Obama quote that showed a different view of the War Powers Resolution when George W. Bush was president.
"We thought we learned this lesson. After Vietnam, Congress swore it would never again be duped into war, and even wrote a new law — the War Powers Act — to ensure it would not repeat its mistakes," Obama said in a 2007 speech.
"In light of the White House's decision to quote a decade-old statement by Speaker Boehner on the War Powers Resolution, I think it's worth remembering what President Obama said before becoming commander-in-chief," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.
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