When Carolyn Maloney finally got a word in after her press conference this morning, she added her voice to the chorus of New York congressmen criticizing President Obama’s handling of the military intervention in Libya.
Maloney had summoned the press to the City Hall steps to discuss Republican efforts to terminate federal foreclosure-avoidance programs, but one special guest, Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel, took the occasion to continue his criticism of the president’s executive decision to intervene in Libya.
Rangel has been one of the most outspoken critics of the president’s decision, including an editorial in the Daily News this morning, and he couldn’t help himself during the question-and-answer session.
“You sound like you want to say something about Libya,” one reporter pressed. “Are you concerned that there needs to be more advice and consent?”
“There doesn’t need to be more, there has to be some,” Rangel said. “And it would be interesting even at the end of the press conference if we find out how much is the war costing us? I think it’s a million dollars a rocket, I think we’re on the way to 500 million, and we’re still going…I don’t want to talk about Libya.”
“But you raised it four or five times,” the reporter noted. “I figured you wanted to go there.”
“Well, I don’t want to take away from this press conference,” Rangel said, “but anybody who’s glanced at the Constitution will tell you that, president after president ever since Roosevelt, have [sic] ignored the constitutional mandate to check with the American people before they put our kids in harm’s way. And Congress has just completely been ignored about this. If indeed our role is one of humaneness, we have to see whether we can develop a policy to see whether Sudan and other areas should be treated the same way. But we’re here because we’re broke, or at least they say we’re broke–“
The reporter noted that it was the congressman who had made the connection.
“Well, how can you not?” Rangel said. “It’s costing us two billion a week in Afghanistan, that money is coming from somewhere, and all of a sudden we’re slashing this program for people, laying off teachers, fireman, the whole works. And this is not for free.”
Finally, Maloney–who had been visibly amused by the exchange–was asked for her opinion.
“I agree completely,” she said, but added, “I am pleased with the president’s statement that in a couple of days they’re going to be turning over the leadership to the Arab League, NATO, and others, and hopefully that means we can bring our men and our dollars back to the housing programs and the needs of the American people.”
Rangel jumped in, “Now, who are they going to turn their leadership over to in Libya?”