Friday, June 24, 2011
House Rejects Support of President on Libya, but Declines to Defund Operations
The House of Representatives voted today on two key measures relating to on-going military operations in Libya. In a rebuff to the administration, the House voted 123 to 295 against House Joint Resolution 68, a measure that would have "authorized" continued, but limited, use of U.S. Armed Forces in Libya (but would have also opposed the use of ground troops there). But the House also voted 180 to 238 against House Resolution 2278, a measure that would have defunded Libyan operations.
The actions, alone or together, only reflect the (mixed) sense of the House on the military operations in Libya; they neither confirm nor restrict the President's authority.
The spirited debate on the measures in the House today came just one week after Charlie Savage reported that administration attorneys differed on the President's authority, and that the President seemed to do an end-run around the traditional practice of receiving legal advice (through the OLC) in order to cherry-pick the advice he wanted. The administration's position--that the military actions in Libya are not "hostilities," and that they are therefore not covered by the reporting and withdrawal requirements in the War Powers Resolution--has been hotly controversial, drawing comparisons to practices in the Bush administration that led to advice in the torture memos, e.g.