The Senate will not be voting on a resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Libya, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday spiked a resolution giving President Obama authority to conduct operations there. The decision comes as an increasing number of Republican senators want the Senate to focus on addressing the nation's debt problems instead.
The Senate was scheduled to vote at 5 p.m. on a procedural motion to take up a resolution authorizing U.S. military operations in Libya for up to a year or sooner if the NATO-led mission ends earlier. But Republican senators, fresh off visiting their constituents, staged a legislative mutiny against it. One GOP aide said as many as 37 Republican senators vowed to vote against the motion.
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"We came back from recess to talk about the debt and the government and those are the most pressing issues right now," the aide said.
Politically, shelving a debate on Libya is advantageous to Republicans. There are divisions within Republicans ranks over Libya that would be exposed if the Senate took up a resolution.
Republican rank-and-file senators would also have to go up against two of their most prominent leaders on foreign affairs who back the resolution: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
And Republicans are seizing on the opportunity to shift focus in the Senate to the nation's debt problems.
Several GOP senators took to the Senate floor Tuesday calling for the Senate to focus on debt and budget issues.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture Monday on a sense of the Senate resolution calling for millionaires to pay more in taxes to address the deficit, a move that appears an acknowledgment he will likely not win enough votes to bring the Libya resolution to the floor.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he will vote against the procedural motion to invoke cloture on the Libya resolution, adding that it will not affect "one iota what is happening in Libya, but it's gonna burn up week's time here while the biggest issue we have to deal with is the debt ceiling."
Corker said he expected much of the Republican conference will oppose cloture. "I hope they'll be people on the other side will agree," he added.
Many GOP senators who normally would be expected to support a resolution authorizing military action said they would oppose cloture in protest of the Senate's failure to focus on the debt. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., announced opposition in a floor speech and Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., also said he would "oppose cloture today and urge the Democrat majority to use this cancelled recess to begin at once the serious budget work."