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Obama pressured on Libya

Fri., June 3, 2011

House members question U.S. military involvement

WASHINGTON – Seeking to stave off a brewing bipartisan revolt over the U.S. role in NATO operations over Libya, House Speaker John Boehner Thursday unveiled a resolution that would give the Obama administration 14 days to justify its involvement in that country’s conflict.

Boehner’s resolution is an attempt to short-circuit more stringent measures introduced by liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Republican Reps. Michael Turner of Ohio and Tom Rooney of Florida. Kucinich’s calls for withdrawal of American forces in 15 days. Turner’s expresses strong disapproval of the U.S. role in Libya. Rooney’s accuses President Barack Obama of violating the 1973 War Powers Resolution and would require U.S. withdrawal unless Congress authorizes the action by June 19.

Lawmakers leaving a closed-door House GOP meeting where Boehner, R-Ohio, outlined his measure said the plan is to have votes on both the Boehner and Kucinich resolutions as early as today.

“The Kucinich measure would have long-term consequences that are unacceptable, including a precipitous withdrawal from our role in supporting our NATO allies in Libya, which could have serious consequences for our broader security,” Boehner said. “It would undermine our troops in harm’s way and undercut our allies who have stood by us in Afghanistan and other areas abroad.”

Boehner echoed the sentiments of Pentagon officials.

“Secretary (Robert) Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences,” said Geoff Morrell, a deputy assistant defense secretary.

By presenting his own resolution, Boehner hopes to thread a thin needle within his own party by chastising Obama and compelling him to report to Congress while not committing the commander-in-chief to a specific timeline to remove U.S. troops from NATO’s Libya operation.

“The president has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon national security interests for current United States military activities in Libya,” Boehner’s resolution reads.

It goes on to say that within 14 days of the resolution’s passage Obama must send the House “a report describing in detail United States security interests and objectives, and the activities of United States Armed Forces, in Libya since March 19, 2011.”

The measure says nothing about ending the U.S. role in NATO’s Libya mission, but it does warn that Congress has the constitutional right to “withhold funding for any unauthorized use of the United States Armed Forces, including for unauthorized activities in Libya.”

“There’s a lot of concern given the budget deficit, given our debt. I think every penny that the Congress spends is getting a lot more scrutiny,” Boehner told reporters earlier in the day. “In addition to that … members are a bit weary on the amount of money we’ve spent in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and that we’re spending in Libya. Many are wondering what’s our vital national security interest there.”

Boehner unveiled his resolution a day after his leadership team pulled Kucinich’s resolution from consideration on the House floor for fear that it might pass. Kucinich’s measure called for the U.S. to cease its NATO role over Libya within 15 days.


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