Measure drew bipartisan support in Congress, though local representatives split votes down party lines
June 7, 2011 (Washington D.C.)—By a 268-145 vote, the House of Representatives rebuked President Barack Obama for not seeking Congressional authorization for military conflict in Libya. House Resolution 292, authored by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked the President to provide Congress with justification for U.S. involvement in NATO-led military strikes.
Those strikes began following Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks on unarmed civilians and protesters. The conflict that has since evolved into civil war. The War Powers Act requires that a president terminate hostilities after 60 days if not authorized by Congress, however that deadline passed on May 20.
Among San Diego’s representatives, Republicans Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa voted in favor of HR 292, while Democrats Susan Davis and Bob Filner voted in opposition.
Rep. Hunter, an initial supporter of military intervention in Libya, issued the following press statement regarding the issue.
“From day one, I said that no American troops should be put on the ground in Libya,” said Congressman Hunter. “There is not a single member of our military on the ground. Not one. And I’ve also stressed the necessity for limited U.S. involvement, urging that our NATO partners take the lead and stay in front." Thus far, no U.S. soldiers have been lost in the Libyan conflict, with the U.S. role limited to air strikes and other support without ground forces.
"Our role, should it continue, must remain extremely limited," Hunter said. "The President has failed to properly lead on this issue, most notably in overstepping his authority under the War Powers Act.” He added, “With this vote today, the President has been put on notice for operating outside his authority. It’s also essential that an exchange with Congress occur—as it should have months or weeks ago—on the parameters and objectives of the Libya mission.”
The resolution criticizing the President passed with support from 45 Democrats and all but 10 of the Republicans present.
An even stronger measure proposed by liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich failed by 148 to 265, with 87 Republicans voting in favor. The Kucinich measure would have required that the U.S. halt operations in Libya within 15 days. Kucinich later voted in favor of HR 292.
Proving that politics does make strange bedfellows in this divisive Congress, two former presidential candidates and military veterans in the Senate—Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican John McCain of Arizona—introduced a counter-resolution that would grant Congressional support for the Libyan mission.
A hearing on that measure in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday was postponed, leading to speculation that it may lack enough votes for passage.