House to consider 2 measures on Libya campaign

One cuts off funds; other gives support

House Speaker John Boehner CRITICISM OF OBAMA GROWS
“The fact is the president has not made his case to the members of Congress,” House Speaker John Boehner said.
By Donna Cassata
Associated Press / June 23, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Setting up a showdown on Libya, House Republicans agreed yesterday to vote on dueling measures, one to give President Obama limited authority to continue US involvement in the NATO-led operation against Moammar Khadafy and the other to cut off funds for military hostilities.

Officials said the measures — a resolution and a bill — would most likely come to a vote tomorrow, a quick timetable that reflects widespread dissatisfaction with Obama’s decision to not seek congressional consent for the three-month-old war.

“The fact is the president has not made his case to the members of Congress,’’ said House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

“He’s not made his case to the American people. We’ve been in this conflict for 90 days and the president hasn’t talked to the American people for four or five weeks about why we’re there, what our national interest is, and why we should continue.’’

Rank-and-file Republicans, emerging from a closed-door meeting, indicated a growing consensus for the bill, which would bar funds for Libya except for money spent this year on search and rescue, aerial refueling, operational planning, intelligence and surveillance, and noncombat missions.

They also discussed the resolution supporting the administration, proposed Tuesday by senators John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican.

The proposed limiting of funds was a direct response to Obama’s assertion that US action in Libya does not amount to full-blown hostilities and does not need congressional approval.

The Libyan war has exposed deep divisions in Congress and within the GOP ranks. Leading Republicans and Democrats in the Senate support the resolution to give Obama authority in the conflict, with Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, calling it a “clear statement to our allies, to the world, to the Libyan people, and to Khadafy that we support the administration’s actions on Libya.’’

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, sponsored the resolution, which would put a one-year limit on the mission and calls for prohibiting US ground forces in Libya.

The House resolution to continue the mission mirrors the Senate measure.

The competing efforts put senators at odds with members of the House, including antiwar Democrats and Tea Party-backed Republicans, who question the legitimacy of the operation because Obama never sought congressional consent under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

“We have a responsibility to follow the rule of law, and as the chief law enforcement officer of the land so does he,’’ Representative Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican, said of Obama.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the number-two Democrat in the Senate, said a House vote to end the operation would “give hope to this dictator Moammar Khadafy, undermine the effort of the innocent people in Libya, and strike a blow at our NATO alliance.’’

Obama did not seek congressional authorization when he launched air strikes against Khadafy’s forces on March 19. Many lawmakers argue Obama is in violation of the War Powers Resolution, which requires Congressional approval for military deployment into hostilities within 60 days, with a 30-day extension. That deadline has passed.

The White House, in a report to Congress last week, said the limited US role in the operation did not amount to hostilities and did not require congressional authorization, an argument that further upset lawmakers.

“That’s outrageous. What do you do, spend $9 million a day to play table tennis?’’ said Representative Donald Manzullo, Republican of Illinois.

In a Senate speech, Reid argued the challenge to Obama was politically driven.

“Some Republicans in the House of Representatives and on the campaign trail have expressed concern over our involvement in this conflict,’’ Reid said. “They have clearly decided to use the War Powers Resolution as a political bludgeon to pursue a partisan agenda.’’

The Democratic leader said the question for lawmakers was whether US involvement in a mission “to stop mass murder and chaos’’ in Libya was the right decision.

“I’m confident it was,’’ Reid said. “Moammar Khadafy’s repressive dictatorship is a threat to the region and to the United States’ national security.’’

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the Kerry-McCain resolution next week, but the full Senate might not act for weeks. top stories on Twitter

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