Democrats delay Kerry-McCain resolution supporting Libya

July 5, 2011

Bowing to GOP pressure to keep debate focused on debt reduction, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nevada) pulled from the floor Tuesday a resolution endorsing the NATO-led air campaign in Libya.

With almost all Republicans signaling they would vote to oppose considering the Libya resolution, Reid postponed a procedural vote on a resolution drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) rather than see it temporarily blocked by a Republican filibuster. He said that the measure still had support, following last week’s bipartisan 14-to-5 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in favor of the controversial military campaign in Libya.

“I’ve spoken with the Republican leader [Mitch McConnell] just a short time ago, and we’ve agreed notwithstanding the broad support for the Libya resolution, the most important thing for focus on this week is the budget,” Reid said Tuesday afternoon.

After cancelling this week’s planned Senate recess, because of the ongoing talks about raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline, Reid scheduled debate on the Libya matter in order to have some legislative issue on the chamber’s floor while talks continued.

The hope, according to Kerry and McCain, was to provide more clarity on support for the three-month-old bombing campaign than the House did last month. The House both opposed the Kerry-McCain resolution endorsing it but also rejected an effort to limit funding for the campaign.

Republicans, however, demanded that some issue connected to the nation’s swelling debt should be considered. So Reid is bringing forward a different non-binding resolution on raising taxes on millionaires.

McCain supported the decision to delay the Libya debate, suggesting that it might resume next week.

“The Senate is back in session this week to address the looming debt crisis. The majority of Senators understandably prefers to focus on that issue this week, and therefore consideration of the resolution authorizing force in Libya has been delayed. I believe the Senate has a responsibility to debate the ongoing conflict in Libya, and it is my hope that we will address this issue as early as next week,” he said in a statement.

Paul Kane covers Congress and politics for the Washington Post.
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