The House on Thursday rejected a measure that would have withdrawn funding for U.S. military operations in Libya, although the amendment drew broad bipartisan support, including from a majority of Republicans.
The measure, which was offered as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill, failed on a 199 to 229 vote. It was sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 other vocal critics of the U.S. involvement in Libya.
The language of the measure states that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the use of military force against Libya.”
The vote gave members of the House their latest opportunity to register their growing dissatisfaction with U.S. participation in the NATO-led effort against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s regime, although, as was the case with previous measures, Thursday’s message from the House was somewhat muddled.
Two weeks ago, the House rejected a measure authorizing the U.S. mission in Libya and another bill that would have limited funding of U.S. operations in the country. On Thursday, while the Kucinich-Amash measure failed, another Libya-related amendment sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) passed on a 225 to 201 vote. That measure prevents funds from being used for equipment and training related to the Libyan operation.
Thursday’s votes also saw some members of House leadership vote to defund the Libyan mission. The top three members of the Democratic caucus voted against the Kucinich-Amash measure, although the number four and five House Democrats, Rep. John Larson (Conn.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.), voted “yes.” The number two and number three House Republicans also voted “no,” while the fourth-ranking GOP leader, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), voted in favor. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who as speaker does not typically weigh in on routine measures, did not cast a vote.
The Senate this week was expected to take up a measure authorizing U.S. operations in Libya, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed that vote after objections from Republicans that the bill was not related to the ongoing debate on raising the debt ceiling.
In a statement Thursday evening, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the co-author of a bipartisan Senate resolution authorizing U.S. action in Libya, expressed disappointment with the House vote on the Cole amendment.
“While I am pleased that the Kucinich Amendment to cut off all funding for the U.S. mission in Libya failed, the vote in the House today barring funding to support the freedom fighters in Libya is deeply disturbing,” McCain said. “I understand House Members’ frustration due to the President’s lack of consultation with Congress and his mishandling of this conflict. However, this action sends exactly the wrong message to both Qaddafi and those fighting for freedom and democracy in Libya — especially since Qaddafi is clearly crumbling.”
McCain added that he was “saddened by the abandonment of America’s traditional support for those struggling for freedom and democracy, which has been a hallmark of our Republican Party for decades.”
This post has been updated since it was first published.