Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is one of the most outspoken critics of President Obama over the White House's failure to seek congressional approval for the United States' role in air attacks on Libya.
The attacks started on March 19. The War Powers Act, passed in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, requires the president to seek the approval of Congress within 60 days of committing U.S. troops to combat.
White House officials have said they are meeting the separate requirement of conferring with Congress about use of the military, and the president has said repeatedly the role in Libya is limited and will not involve ground troops.
Sherman, whose district includes Burbank, said that is not enough.
“Even if it is for the worthy goal of bringing democracy and the rule of law to Libya, we should not shred democracy and the rule of law in the United States,” Sherman said. “I've seen chatter from the White House saying we don't need a formal vote. I think what they really believe is that what they are doing in Libya is good, and following the U.S. Constitution could screw it up.”
On Thursday, Sherman tried to force the White House's hand by amending a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security. The amendment, which would have barred the agency from spending money in support of the Libyan effort, failed 213-208.
If and when the White House introduces a War Powers resolution, Sherman said he would support the measure if it limited the time and scope of the Libyan effort, contained a provision to use Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's personal assets to help defray the costs of combat and pushed for the Libyan government that would replace Kadafi to exclude people with terrorist ties.
“I could vote for some specific, limited authority for Libya, and I wouldn't mind if I lost and Congress gave the president more authority than I think we should,” Sherman said. “This is not just about Libya. We are marching toward an imperial presidency.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has also expressed concern about Libya, saying “it is hard to see where the endgame is” with the military effort there.
Schiff voted against Sherman's proposed amendment Thursday, but said he would like to see a War Powers Act vote.
“I think that the president is on the strongest ground when he acts in concert with the Congress, and a resolution of support from the Congress for our part in the NATO operation would be perfectly appropriate,” Schiff said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who has been pressing the U.S. Forest Service to revise its policies in the wake of the devastating 2009 Station fire, expressed frustration recently that as fire season approaches, the agency still has not committed to preparing for night flights to battle forest fires or come up with a policy to work more closely with local fire crews.
At a meeting Schiff held in Altadena in late April, Forest Service officials said they are still completing a study of what went wrong in late August 2009, when the blaze grew from a small fire to one that would burn for nearly two months, blacken 160,000 acres, destroy dozens of homes and take the lives of two firefighters. Schiff said last week that the agency is moving too slowly.
“To think it is going to take them two years to do this analysis, one where they risk another catastrophe with every day they delay, is completely unacceptable and is a terrible indictment of the department,” Schiff said.
The agency must acquire the equipment and train personnel to perform night flights to drop water over otherwise inaccessible areas, he added.
“Not everywhere in the country,” he said, “but in forest areas with a large urban interface, like in Los Angeles. They also need to contract with local crews so they can have aircraft flying around the clock.”
Schiff added that he and other lawmakers plan to use their power as funders of the Forest Service to spur the agency to make the changes.
“We are working through the appropriations process to try to compel the Forest Service to move forward,” he said.
The Burbank City Council seeks candidates to fill vacancies on three committees, including the Burbank Sustainable Task Force, the Civic Pride Committee and the Landlord-Tenant Commission.
The term on the Civic Pride Committee would last through May 2012, and appointments to the other commissions would go through May 2013. Applications for the unpaid positions must be submitted by June 30 and are available at www.BurbankUSA.com or the City Clerk's Office at City Hall, 275 E. Olive Ave.
The council will make the appointments July 12.
The Burbank Democratic Club holds its annual Spring Picnic at McCambridge Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 11. Several elected officials are expected to attend the event, which will include food, a raffle of prizes and a discussion of the 2012 election.
Attendance is free, though guests are asked to bring a side, salad or dessert. McCambridge Park is at 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd.