Saturday, June 25, 2011

House Spurns Obama on Libya, but Does Not Cut Funds

U.S. House rebukes Obama on Libya funds

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers in New York Thursday. The Republicans voted in the House Friday to deny him authority to spend on military action in Libya, a measure likely to be reversed in the Senate.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers in
New York Thursday. The Republicans voted
in the House Friday to deny him authority to spend 
on military action in Libya, a measure likely to be reversed
in the Senate. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
A defiant U.S. House voted overwhelmingly Friday to deny
President Barack Obama the authority to wage war against Libya.
But Republicans fell short in an effort to actually cut off funds for
the operation in a constitutional showdown reflecting both political
differences and unease over American involvement.
In a repudiation of their commander in chief, House members rejected a measure to authorize the Libya mission for a year while prohibiting U.S. ground forces in the North African nation, a resolution Obama had said he would welcome.
The vote was 295-123 with 70 Democrats abandoning the president just one day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had made an unusual appeal to rank-and-file members. A Senate committee is to consider the same resolution next Tuesday and is expected to support it, raising the prospect of conflicting messages from Congress.
Friday's votes showed lawmakers' concerns about an open-ended U.S. commitment to a civil war between Moammar Gadhafi and rebel forces looking to oust him — as well as growing weariness among Americans with drawn-out conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, the resounding number rejecting the authority resolution was a clear sign of anger toward the president for failing to seek congressional consent for the operation within 60 days, as stated in the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

Obama ignoring Constitution, lawmakers claim

Republicans and Democrats argued that an arrogant Obama had run roughshod over the Constitution, ignoring the authority of the legislative branch that the founding fathers had insisted has the power to declare war.
While Republican as well as Democratic presidents have often ignored the War Powers Resolution, a frustrated House voted earlier this month to rebuke Obama for failing to provide a "compelling rationale" for the Libyan mission and for launching U.S. military forces without congressional approval. They requested a report to Congress on the operation.
Obama further incensed lawmakers last week when he said he didn't need authorization because the operation did not rise to full-blown hostilities, a decision he reached by overruling some of his advisers.
It's not about Gadhafi, foes of the authorization said.
"I support the removal of the Libyan regime. I support the president's authority as commander in chief, but when the president chooses to challenge the powers of the Congress I, as speaker of the House, will defend the constitutional authority of the legislature," said Speaker John Boehner, a Republican.
Added Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican: "The last thing that we want as Americans is for some president, whether it's this president or some future president, to be able to pick fights around the world without any debate from another branch of government."

Effort to cut off money defeated

The rejected money-cutoff bill, sponsored by Rooney, would have barred drone attacks and airstrikes but allowed the United States to continue actions in support of the NATO-led operation such as intelligence gathering, refuelling and reconnaissance. The effort to cut off money was defeated, 238-180.
While Republican leaders backed the measure, they didn't pressure Republicans to support it.
Supporting Obama, Democrats opposed to the votes argued that they would empower Gadhafi, aggravate NATO allies desperately needed in the fight in Afghanistan and send a dispiriting message to those who led the Arab spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.
The authorization vote marked the first time since 1999 that either chamber had voted against backing a military action. The last time was to limit former U.S. president Bill Clinton's authority to use ground forces in Kosovo. There will be no immediate effect on American involvement in the NATO-led mission in Libya, the same as in 1999.
Since NATO took command of the operation in early April, the U.S. role has largely been limited to support efforts such as intelligence and electronic warfare. However, the U.S. has launched airstrikes and drone attacks, flying more than 3,200 sorties. The effort has included 39 drone attacks and 80 strikes with jet more.

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