After Years of War, House Holds Votes to Check Military Action
An increasingly war-weary House will vote this week on legislation that would halt the U.S. military intervention in Libya. The vote comes just days after lawmakers nearly approved a measure to expedite the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday the House would take up a resolution introduced by anti-war Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that directs the president to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya. The liberal Democrat is acting under authority of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which enables legislators to force a vote on troop withdrawal measures under certain conditions.
Kucinich has used the mechanism to force votes on withdrawing forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently in March, but this will be the first such vote on the two-month-old Libya mission.
The measure is not expected to pass, but a significant number of votes in favor could send a sobering message to the White House, which has struggled to win congressional support for the military intervention in Libya. Both Republican and Democratic leaders criticized Obama for a lack of consultation with Congress in the run-up to the military deployment, and the House has ignored his request for a resolution supporting the mission.
Obama has also come under criticism for not providing enough clarity on the goals of the bombing campaign – whether it is merely to protect Libyan civilians from a crackdown by Moammar Ghadafi or whether it is to drive Ghadafi from power.
The House last week overwhelmingly voted to add amendments to a Defense authorization bill to bar the president from deploying ground troops to Libya and stating explicitly that Congress was not, as part of the legislation, authorizing the military mission.
Kucinich seized on those votes to declare increased momentum for ending the U.S. involvement. “Congress is not satisfied with the blank check that this administration has written for itself to conduct the Libyan war,” Kucinich said. “Congress has made it clear that the Libyan war has not been authorized as required by the Constitution and the War Powers Act.”
Aides said Democrats felt comfortable voting to prohibit ground troops in Libya because Obama has already deemed it U.S. policy.
An aide to Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democratic leaders would not whip their members on the Kucinich resolution.
In a separate vote, the House came surprisingly close to approving an expedited withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. The bipartisan measure, authored by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), failed 215-204 after drawing 26 Republican votes and all but eight Democrats.
During the debate over that resolution, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Americans wanted to end the war. “Each time I go there, I say, ‘The American people are growing tired of war,’ ” Pelosi said on the floor.
Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this story.