House Scolds Obama on Libya

by Andrew Stiles

The House approved a resolution on Friday that formally rebukes the Obama administration’s failure to seek congressional authorization for U.S. military involvement in Libya.

The measure, introduced by House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), also requests a detailed outline from the administration regarding the cost and scope of the ongoing operation. It was offered a less severe alternative to a resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) that would have required the U.S. to withdraw all its troops from Libya within 15 days.

Boehner’s resolution passed by a 268 to 145 margin, with 45 Democrats joining all but 10 Republicans in support. The Kucinich measure, on the other hand, failed 148 to 265, and was supported by more Republicans (87, most of them freshmen) than Democrats (61).

Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) was one of the Republicans who voted for both resolutions. “We’ve been at war for ten years now, and the President’s actions are too costly and unclear to justify opening our country’s third theater of battle,” he said in a statement.

But despite the critical nature of the Boehner resolution, it’s passage can be seen as a de facto statement of general support for the U.S. military action in Libya. “We must not let our frustration with the president’s contempt for Congress cloud our judgment and result in our taking action that would harm our standing, our credibility and our interests in the region,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.).