Updated, 2:56 p.m.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to indicate that there will be a vote Friday on some kind of resolution related to the U.S. military campaign in Libya, as rank-and-file conservatives continue to press for a chance to rebuke President Obama.
It’s still unclear what that resolution would be. There are two proposals already introduced. One simply expresses Congress’ disapproval of the 75 day-old campaign. The other expressly calls for Obama to pull U.S. forces from the NATO-led operation against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
Boehner and other GOP leaders are scheduled to meet with Republican Congressmen this afternoon to discuss what happens next.
“We’ll see what our members have to say,” Boehner said in a press conference Thursday morning. “But I expect that this issue will be resolved tomorrow.”
Boehner spent the first weeks of the 75-day Libyan campaign avoiding a confrontation with the president. On Thursday, he said that Obama needed to make a better case--to Congress and to the public--that the action in Libya fight U.S. interests.
“The doubts that our members have, quite frankly, are reflected -- they’re reflecting what they’re hearing from their constituents,” Boehner said. “I think the president has a role to play here and the president really does need to step up and help the American people understand why these missions are vital to the national security interest of our country?”
. Dozens of Republicans, including many conservative freshmen, have now expressed support for resolutions that would expressly disapprove of Obama’s actions in Libya.
Many of them are concerned about the cost of the operation, and about the War Powers Resolution, a 1973 law that says presidents have 60 days to obtain Congress’s permission for a foreign military operation. In this case, that deadline passed last month.
“We’re demonstrating the irrelevance of the Congress,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “We’re about 60 days late to the game.”
The proposals introduced so far include one bill from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), which would call for Obama to pull U.S. forces out within 15 days. That bill was abruptly shelved on Wednesday, after it garnered unexpected support from both liberals and conservatives.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a statement saying that any Congressional action to limit the Libya operation would be harmful.
“Secretary Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences,” said spokesman Geoff Morrell.
A less drastic bill was also proposed by Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) on Thursday. The Turner bill would allow the House express its disapproval of the Libya campaign, but would not explicitly call for Obama to pull U.S. forces from the NATO-led operation there.
White House officials have encouraged Congress to pass a separate resolution--now pending in the Senate---that supports the Libyan operation. But they have also insisted that their campaign is legal even without express authorization from Congress.