House Republicans will again challenge President Obama on Libya, offering two resolutions that seek to limit the scope of the mission for a vote as soon as Thursday, The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports. One proposal would demand Obama halt American bombing of Libya by both drones and piloted aircraft, while allowing the U.S. to support the NATO mission in other ways, like search and rescue and reconnaissance. The other resolution would only forbid ground troops in the country but otherwise authorize the mission. It's modeled on a proposal offered by Sens. John Kerry and John McCain. Both will be discussed by the House Republican Conference Wednesday.
The no-more-bombing resolution "appears to be aimed at the Obama administration's controversial argument that the military’s activities in Libya do not constitute 'hostilities' and so are not bound by the War Powers Resolution," Savage explains. That law requires presidents to seek approval from Congress for hostilities no less than 60 days after they begin. In the case of Libya, that deadline was May 20.
House Speaker John Boehner said "we have no desire to damage the NATO alliance," but he does not buy the White House's argument that we're not engaged in "hostilities" in Libya. (Neither do top lawyers at the Pentagon and Justice Department, the Times reports.)
Boehner said it's unlikely that the second resolution, authorizing but limiting the use of force in Libya, will pass the House. McCain has denounced emerging "isolationist" sentiment in the Republican Party, but Bohener disputed that characterization. "If you’ve listened to what Sen. McCain has said and Sen. Graham, two friends of mine, and you've listened to what I and some others have said, we’ve said almost the exact same thing, except they’re pushing for an authorization in Libya, and I don’t think that’s where the House is,” Boehner said, Politico's Seung Min Kim reports. It is, however, where the Senate is: Harry Reid said McCain and Kerry's resolution had the votes to pass the upper chamber.
A resolution to stop strikes is not "likely to be legally binding," Savage writes. But it still matters: "Were Congress, or at least the House, to pass the resolution, Mr. Obama could choose to act in accordance with it by stopping missile strikes from American aircraft without conceding that doing so was legally necessary, a potential way for both sides to stand down while making a plausible argument that they were satisfied with the outcome."