The Senate is likely to take up a resolution next week that would authorize the conflict in Libya, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday afternoon.
The resolution, approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, would allow U.S. forces to remain in the NATO-led operation for up to a year.
The full Senate was not originally scheduled to vote on the measure until after a recess next week. But that changed when Reid decided to keep the Senate in session. Now, aides said, the bill will first come up for a procedural vote on Tuesday.
That will be followed by a debate, and a final vote is expected next Thursday, aides said.
If it passes, the bill would be a political boost for President Obama, who has faced criticism from many legislators for his handling of the mission in Libya. In particular, legislators feel Obama has disregarded the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says presidents must obtain congressional authorization after sending troops into hostilities overseas.
Obama has argued that what’s happening in Libya should not count as “hostilities,” because U.S. forces are carrying out mainly support tasks such as intelligence-gathering, surveillance and aerial refueling.
The Senate resolution, as written now, explicitly rejects that argument. It declares that the Libyan conflict does, indeed, amount to “hostilities”--but then it offers Obama authorization to continue it.
Legally, passage of the Senate resolution would not mean very much--at least, on its own. The House recently voted down a similar bill, explicitly declining to give Obama its authorization for the campaign.