UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) defended his call for a Senate resolution authorizing the ouster of Moammar Gaddafi on Thursday after a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Rubio’s plan could force the United States to commit U.S. troops and billions of dollars for years as part of nation-building efforts.
In a letter to Reid, Rubio reiterated his concern for U.S. troops, stressed the need to use U.S. military force to depose the Libyan leader and argued that the coalition’s “limited” goal of protecting the slaughter of civilians is “impossible to achieve so long as Qaddafi remains in power.”
“The reality is that the U.S. has attacked a brutal dictator with a long history of brazen support for terrorism against Americans,” Rubio wrote. “We have attacked someone who less than a decade ago was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. If he survives this international effort against him and remains in power, he will be emboldened and angry, and he will once again act against America’s interests.”
Earlier Thursday, a Reid spokesman dismissed the freshman senator’s plan for a Senate resolution, which Rubio had requested in a letter to Reid on Wednesday .
Rubio “seems oblivious to the troops’ lives his plan would put on the line,” spokesman Jon Summers said. “Moreover, he seems to have forgotten that the Libyan people have made it clear they don’t want foreign boots on the ground.
“The Obama administration rightly recognized that a broad international coalition with limited goals would not only lend legitimacy to an intervention in Libya,” Summers said, “but also improve our chances of success and limit the burden on U.S. taxpayers.”
The text of Rubio’s Thursday letter to Reid is after the jump.
In a letter to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday, Rubio urged the Senate leaders to bring a bipartisan resolution to the floor approving Obama’s decision to commit U.S. troops to the Libyan conflict, as well authorizing the removal of Gaddafi from power.
Several senators have spoken out on the Libyan conflict after attending a closed-door briefing with administration officials Wednesday night. Reid had asked senators to hold off on any calls for legislation until after members had been briefed.
The statement from Reid’s office was a sign that Rubio’s resolution isn’t likely to go far in the Senate. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Rubio has lost out: As The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes on The Fix, Rubio’s move is part of his rapid reemergence in recent days as a leading conservative voice -- and a voice in opposition to Obama — after several months of taking on a lower profile since his election in November.
Here is the text of Rubio’s second letter to Reid:
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
Last night, I sent you a letter expressing my support for a bipartisan effort to authorize the actions President Obama has taken with Libya. I was surprised by your reaction to my offer of bipartisan cooperation on a matter of national security.
Your office stated that I “seem oblivious to the troops’ lives [my] plan would put on the line.” My concern for the well-being of our troops is no less than yours. I am saddened you would suggest otherwise.
Furthermore, the resolution I am suggesting would authorize the military actions President Obama has already decided to take. As you should recall, Secretary Clinton has said the administration would welcome such support.
Your office then suggested that my “rash suggestions could commit our troops irrevocably to a regime change and nation-building effort that could take months or years and cost billions of taxpayer dollars.” But my position is consistent with Senator Levin’s announcement earlier this week that he would try to build bipartisan support for a resolution authorizing U.S. participation in an allied military action.
Finally, your office suggests that, “The Obama administration rightly recognized that a broad international coalition with limited goals would not only lend legitimacy to an intervention in Libya, but also improve our chances of success and limit the burden on U.S. taxpayers.” In fact, what you describe as the “limited goal” of the coalition was to prevent the massacre of innocent civilians, a goal that is impossible to achieve so long as Qaddafi remains in power in Libya.
I understand that reflexively attacking the ideas proposed by another member of the opposing party has sadly become the way of the modern Senate. It nonetheless remains my hope that the Senate will endeavor to at least make an exception when it comes to issues of national security.
The reality is that the U.S. has attacked a brutal dictator with a long history of brazen support for terrorism against Americans. We have attacked someone who less than a decade ago was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. If he survives this international effort against him and remains in power, he will be emboldened and angry, and he will once again act against America’s interests.
I hope you will reconsider your opposition to a bipartisan resolution to authorize the President to finish the job he has started.