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House Rebukes White House Over Libya Authorization

June 24, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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JEFFREY BROWN: The U.S. House rendered a split decision today on the military operation in Libya. Lawmakers refused to endorse the U.S. role, but they likewise refused to stop footing the bill.

REP. TED POE, R-Texas: It is Congress’ responsibility to defund any further action in Libya. And that’s what we should do.

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS, D-Fla.: We must support our allies who are carrying out the direct combat operations. We must stand with NATO.

JEFFREY BROWN: Debate was joined in the House today, 97 days after U.S. forces launched the air campaign in Libya. NATO allies are now in the lead, with the U.S. in a supporting role.

For that reason, and with no American troops on the ground, President Obama has argued the U.S. is not engaged in — quote — “hostilities” as defined under the War Powers Resolution.

But Congress has increasingly complained that the president overstepped his authority and should have sought its approval under the resolution. Today, in its first vote on the Libyan operation, the House overwhelmingly refused to give that approval, 295-123.

Most Republicans, and 70 Democrats, said they had not been properly consulted.

REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-N.Y.: The fact is there was no imminent threat to the United States. The secretary of defense said that. There was plenty of time to negotiate with the Arab League, plenty of time to go to the U.N. There should have been time to get not Congress — not consultations with Congress, but — but authorization from Congress. In the absent that authorization, we have to put our foot down now and say no.

REP. TIM GRIFFIN, R-Ark.: We cannot spend precious taxpayer funds to support this military action while the president flouts the law and Constitution.

JEFFREY BROWN: But then, in a separate measure, Republican leaders pushed to block funding for air raids by U.S. planes and pay only for aircraft refueling, intelligence-gathering, and reconnaissance.

The president’s supporters decried the move, and many Republicans joined in as well.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, R-Ill.: We talk all the time about allowing Europe to take the lead in certain areas, allowing NATO to take the lead in foreign policy. And they have done that. Now will we today pull the rug out from under them simply because we have a dispute between the legislative and the executive branch?

I think the president should have come to this chamber, too. But he didn’t. But the wrong thing to do is to pull funding, and the right thing to do is to give him the authorization to go into Libya.

REP. STENY HOYER, D-Md. House minority whip: The message will go to all the world, the message will go to Moammar Gadhafi, the message will go to our NATO allies, the message will go to every nation of the world that America doesn’t keep faith with its allies.

MAN: The bill is not passed.

JEFFREY BROWN: Ultimately, the effort to cut off funding for the Libyan mission also failed, as more than 80 Republicans voted against their leadership.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Let me comment.

JEFFREY BROWN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged lawmakers Thursday not to cut off funds for the Libya mission. She had this to say today, after meeting with the South Korean foreign minister.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I am pleased that a very important statement was made today by the House on a bipartisan basis that recognizes the need for us to continue this important mission.

JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, over in the Senate, Republican John McCain and Democrat John Kerry have offered their own resolution to authorize operations in Libya for up to a year.