WASHINGTON – Two top senators on Tuesday unveiled a resolution giving President Barack Obama limited authority in the 3-month-old war against Libya, warning that the drastic step of cutting off funds for the military operation would be a lifeline to a weakened Moammar Gadhafi.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain of Arizona, the leading Republican on the Armed Services Committee, introduced the bipartisan resolution that would allow the mission to continue but would impose a one-year limit on the NATO-led operation, a period McCain said is “more than enough time to finish the job.” It also would prohibit American ground forces in Libya.
The measure is a clear counter to efforts in the House to prohibit spending and effectively end the operation, a reflection of the growing Republican and Democratic anger toward Obama and his treatment of Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said late Tuesday that the Republican rank and file would consider two possible resolutions – one mirroring the Senate measure by Kerry and McCain and another to remove U.S. forces from Libya except those involved in search and rescue, aerial refueling, intelligence and surveillance and noncombat missions. The Republicans would weigh the two at a meeting today.
“We have no desire to damage the NATO alliance, which has been a strong force for peace and stability in Europe and around the world,” Boehner said in a statement. “We know that soldiers, sailors and airmen from our allies have fought by our side for decades, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we honor their service. Still, the White House must not ignore its obligations to the American people and the laws of this country.”
The commander in chief did not seek congressional consent when he launched air strikes against Gadhafi’s forces on March 19. Lawmakers argue that Obama is in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires approval of the legislative branch within 60 days, with a 30-day extension. That deadline has passed.
The White House has said the limited U.S. role in the operation did not amount to hostilities and did not require congressional authorization.