“Was there any consideration before you sent this aircraft carrier out to the Gulf of Aden to send a War Powers Act request up to Congress?” a reporter asked the White House press secretary on Tuesday.

“I don’t believe so,” spokesman Josh Earnest replied. “But if — let me check with the lawyers on that before I — before I completely rule that out. My suspicion is that, based on the fact that there are — is already a military presence there, that a War Powers Act would — or notification would be unnecessary.”

Earnest said he “may not have done justice to the full legal explanation,” and he told the reporter he would follow up on the question.

The 1973 War Powers Act limits the president to a unilateral military commitment of no more than 60 days before he must request congressional authorization. However, President Obama did not seek congressional authorization for U.S. military involvement in the Libya’s civil war in 2011. He said the U.S. was acting as part of a “broad coalition” that was enforcing a U.N. Security Council resolution.

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