THE RECLAIM ACT does two simple things: ceases the use of force in, or directed at, the country of Libya by our armed forces and halts all use of funds used in the force against the country of Libya. This bill DOES NOT allow an open-ended conflict. It DOES NOT leave us vulnerable to a “Tonkin Gulf,” “Nueces Strip” or a “Black Hawk Down” situation, meaning, it does not leave the United States armed forces in a vulnerable situation to be attacked, thus forcing our hand to retaliate. We’ve already come too close, with one plane having crash-landed—what if those pilots ended up in enemy hands?
Not only are these actions unconstitutional, they are unfathomable when we are facing a $14 trillion debt. The first night of this attack, we fired 112 Tomahawk missiles. Each of these missiles can cost up to $1.5 million. That’s $168 million for one night’s assault. Libya is more than four times the size of Iraq; we spent $2.1 billion a year enforcing a no fly zone there. Estimates to maintain the no-fly zone can cost $100 million to $300 million per week. We cannot afford another open-ended conflict overseas.
THIS IS a bipartisan measure to RECLAIM and restore the American people’s faith in the balance of power, faith in the Constitution, and—when trust in government is at record lows—faith in the United States Congress. Presidents have long abused their prerogative to conduct foreign affairs on behalf of the United States. From Truman intervening in Korea, JFK’s invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Reagan’s involvement in the Iraq-Iran war; George H.W. Bush in Panama and Somalia; Clinton in Somalia, Kosovo, Serbia; George W. Bush in Pakistan. The American people elected us to serve in a co-equal branch of the federal government. It is time we act like it.
Johnson is a Republican representing the 15th Congressional District of Illinois in the U.S. House.