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Obama again draws GOP anger with executive decision on land mines

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) questions U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the about the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The trade of Bergdahl for five senior Taliban officials has angered some members of Congress because they were not informed of the swap beforehand. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Obama administration announced Friday that it would no longer produce or acquire anti-personnel land mines as part of an international agreement reached in Maputo, Mozambique, which drew immediate criticism from a key House Republican who said the move could endanger the lives of U.S. soldiers.

According to the White House, the administration is looking to join the Ottawa Convention, which prohibits all activities related to anti-personnel land mines, or APL.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). says Friday that the Obama administration has again gone too far, this time by deciding unilaterally to stop using and producing anti-personnel land mines. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"The U.S. delegation in Maputo further announced that the United States is diligently pursuing solutions that would be compliant with and that would ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention," the White House said. "We are also conducting a high fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss of APL.

"Other aspects of U.S. land mine policy remain under consideration, and we will share outcomes from this process as we are able to do so."

But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) called the decision an "end-run around Congress," and said Obama is ignoring the advice of military leaders.

"General Dempsey has long declared the responsible land mines we use are an 'important tool in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the United States,' " McKeon said, referring to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey. "The president owes our military an explanation for ignoring their advice and putting them at risk — all for a Friday morning press release."

McKeon added that on the issue of "irresponsible" land mine use, "America isn't part of that problem."

"Indeed, we do more than any other country to clean up these irresponsible weapons," he said.

McKeon's complaint is just the latest example of a GOP complaint that Obama is not consulting Congress on key issues. Earlier this week, Republicans proposed a resolution outlining several administration decisions that they shows Obama's disrespect for the rule of law, and House Republicans are expected to file a law suit against Obama in the coming weeks in to defend the concept of separation of powers.

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