The Washington Post

House GOP leaders delay vote on Libya resolution

Republican leaders in the House have put off a resolution that would demand an end to U.S. military operations in Libya — postponing a vote that could reveal the depth of opposition to the Libya campaign in both parties.

The delay was announced Wednesday morning by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who wrote the resolution. Citing authority given to Congress in the 1973 War Powers Resolution, it would direct President Obama to remove U.S. forces from Libya.

No Congress has removed forces from combat since the act was passed. And in this case, the move would mean backing out of a NATO-led operation where U.S. planes and drones fly a significant number of sorties.

So it’s not clear that Kucinich’s resolution would have even come close to passing.

But Republican leaders, who have shied away from confrontation with Obama over Libya, appeared unwilling to take that risk.

The vote on Kucinich’s bill had been expected Wednesday. Now, it is on hold.

A leadership aide said that all House Republicans would meet Thursday to talk about Libya. The vote on Kucinich’s bill would not be rescheduled, the aide said, until afterward. “Members on both sides of the aisle are extremely frustrated with the administration’s failure to communicate the strategy in Libya,” the aide said.

Kucinich criticized the decision in a written statement.

“I am disappointed that the President and leadership feel the need to buy even more time to shore up support for the war in Libya,” he said. “It’s not surprising that some are now wondering if a preliminary vote count on my resolution came out in favor of defending the Constitution.”

The decision also drew anger from rank-and-file House Republicans, who questioned their leaders about it on Wednesday morning, according to one legislator present.

“I don’t know why our leadership doesn’t want to have that vote,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.). “I think that they’re flat wrong.”

Campbell said that other Republicans had raised concerns about the costs and entanglements of a drawn-out war in Libya. He said they were also unhappy about the way Obama has handled his obligations under the War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to obtain congressional permission for overseas operations within 60 days of notifying Congress.

In this case, the deadline was missed. The administration has said it has the authority it needs to conduct the operation in Libya, although Obama said he welcomed a resolution of support from Congress.

That sort of resolution has been introduced in the Senate, but it will not be voted on until at least next week.

“Put a resolution up, and let us express . . . to the president that, ‘You no longer have the authority of this Congress to conduct military operations in that country,’ ” Campbell said. “The response [from GOP leaders] is inconclusive.”

David A. Fahrenthold covers Congress for the Washington Post. He has been at the Post since 2000, and previously covered (in order) the D.C. police, New England, and the environment.

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