Kerry and McCain Introduce Libya ResolutionBy JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesIn an effort aimed at countering a House Republican plan to defund American military operations in Libya, Senators John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a Democrat, and John McCain, a Republican, announced the introduction of a joint resolution on Tuesday authorizing the limited use of United States Armed Forces in Libya.
Under the resolution, which could be voted on as early as this week, the president is “authorized to continue the limited use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya, in support of United States national security policy interests” for one year after passage of the resolution.
The bipartisan legislation, however, “does not support deploying, establishing or maintaining the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal defense of United States government officials.”
On the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Mr. Kerry of Massachusetts said that intervention in Libya sent a signal to its leaders that “they cannot automatically assume they can resort to large-scale violence to put down legitimate demands for reform without consequences.”
He added: “This is not a blank check for the president. This resolution authorizes the limited use of American forces in a supporting role. It says specifically that the Senate does not support the use of ground troops in Libya. And it authorizes this limited use of American forces for a limited duration – it would expire in a year.”
The resolution requires the president to report back to Congress on the progress of the mission. The White House did not seek authorization for the military operations, as some members felt it should have under the War Powers Resolution, but the administration has said it would welcome the affirmation.
On the Senate floor, Mr. McCain, of Arizona and the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, chastised his Republican colleagues in the House for considering such measures. “I would ask my colleagues, is this the time for Congress to turn against this policy?” Mr. McCain said. “Is this the time to ride to the rescue of a failing tyrant when the writing is on the wall that he will collapse?”
Mr. McCain and Mr. Kerry have been strong advocates of intervention in Libya, urging Mr. Obama to establish a no-flight zone soon after the uprising began in early March.
In recent weeks, Mr. Obama has responded to criticism for failing to seek authorization from Congress by arguing that it does not need Congressional authorization to continue the mission because United States forces are not engaged in “hostilities” within the meaning of the War Powers Resolution.
Under that 1973 law, presidents must end unauthorized deployments 60 days after notifying Congress that they have introduced American forces into actual or imminent hostilities. That deadline for the Libyan mission appeared to pass on May 20, but the administration contended that the deadline did not apply because the United States’ role had not risen to the level of “hostilities,” at least since it handed control of the mission over to NATO.
The House is set to vote this week on at least one measure that would limit financing for military efforts in Libya, using the chamber’s appropriations power to push back against President Obama.More.