Top Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives joined forces Friday to defeat a resolution that would have demanded an end to US military operations in Libya within 15 days. The resolution was voted down 148 to 265, with both House Speaker John Boehner, the leading Republican, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the leading Democrat, opposing it.
Majorities of both parties backed the continuation of the war, although a significantly higher percentage of Democrats took the pro-war position. The Republicans split 144 to 87, while the Democrats divided 121 to 61.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a liberal Democrat and former presidential candidate, introduced the resolution, which would have had the force of law if passed by both the House and the Senate. It declared Obama to be in violation of the War Powers Act, the 1973 legislation adopted in the wake of the Vietnam War to make future undeclared wars subject to congressional approval.
The House Republican leadership intervened to block a vote on the Kucinich resolution Wednesday, fearing it might pass with the vast majority of Republicans voting for it in order to deal a political blow to President Obama.
The next day, at a closed-door caucus of the House Republicans, Boehner took the unusual step of introducing his own resolution on the Libya war, one that would merely express the "sense of the House" and not be legally binding. The resolution criticized the Obama administration's refusal to seek congressional approval for the war and demanded answers within 14 days to a series of questions about US goals in Libya.
Boehner defended the toothless resolution as an effort to avoid undercutting US relations with NATO allies, like Britain and France, which are carrying out the bulk of the military operations against Libya. He said that the Kucinich resolution "goes too far," adding, "We may have differences regarding how we got here, but we cannot turn our backs on our troops and our NATO partners who have stuck by us over the last 10 years."
The Boehner resolution criticizes Obama mainly for failing to generate adequate war propaganda, saying that the administration needed to provide Congress "a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya."
The resolution demands that the administration turn over documentation on how the decision to launch the war was made, on how the war in Libya will affect ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the nature of the Libyan rebel groups fighting to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.