The House is set to vote today on a bill that would severely limit funding for U.S. military action in Libya, what would amount to a bipartisan rebuke of a sitting president’s decision to authorize military strikes in the North African country without the approval of Congress. Votes are expected anytime from noon to late afternoon.
Republican leaders, who control the House floor, are allowing two key votes on the Libya today. The defunding measure is being offered by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and would cut off funds for airstrikes or any other combat but would allow the U.S. to serve in a supporting role to the now-NATO-led operation, which would include air refueling, intelligence and search-and-rescue operations.
The other key vote, which will occur earlier in the afternoon, would authorize military action in Libya for one year and provide the Congressional seal-of-approval that the mission has so far lacked. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is the chief sponsor.
Support for the bill cutting off funding has been building all week, and there’s a very real chance it could pass, delivering a major blow to a sitting president’s foreign policy decisions just as his reelection campaign shifts into high gear.
Members of Congress across the political spectrum have expressed outrage that Obama failed to consult or win Congressional approval before moving forward with an expensive military campaign amid growing anxiety over the nation’s budget woes. Others cite the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires the White House to obtain Congressional approval for the use of military force after 60 days of first initiating it, with a 30 day extension. The combat in Libya started well over 90 days ago.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held an emergency meeting with House Democrats Thursday in an attempt to persuade them not to jump on board the defunding train. After the meeting, many Democrats remain unswayed by her arguments.