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U.S. House keeps Libya funding, fails to authorize mission

 
 
 
 
 
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A resolution that bars most funding for the U.S. military mission in Libya failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, shortly after another measure authorizing the Libya mission suffered the same fate.

The resolution, offered by Rep. Tom Rooney and supported by House Republicans, strikes current-year defense funding for the Libya mission except for search and rescue, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, aerial refueling and operational planning. It failed the House on a 180-238 vote.

A majority of House Republicans supported the bill, with 144 voting in favor of and 89 against it. Democrats were less divided with 36 for and 149 against.

The vote gave the White House a somewhat surprise victory in its spat with the Congress on war powers, as the measure was supported by Republican leadership. House Speaker John Boehner said during floor debate that the measure represents a “reasonable approach” that would let the United States continue to help its NATO allies.

Democrats, on the other hand, argued that limited activities would prevent the United States from helping much with the humanitarian mission, and several of them suggested that the U.S. side needs more authority than what was offered in the bill.

The House earlier in the day voted to defeat a measure authorizing the U.S. mission in Libya, which was designed to approve limited operations for one year but disallow the use of ground forces. It was supported by President Barack Obama.

After the first measure was rejected, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was “disappointed by that vote.”

“We continue to welcome expressions of support for our mission with our NATO allies and others in Libya,” said Carney. “We think now is not the time to send the kind of mixed message.”

According to the U.S. Constitution, the Congress has the right to declare wars. The 1973 War Powers Resolution prohibits U.S. armed forces from being involved in military actions for over 60 days, with a 30-day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. Congress members have been demanding the Obama administration seek approval for continued participation in the Libya conflict.

But the White House argues U.S. military’s support role in Libya does not meet the threshold set by the War Powers Resolution, and therefore requires no Congressional approval.

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