US Senate Committee Approves Obama Action on Libya

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 6:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a resolution that would give President Barack Obama limited authority to continue the U.S. role in the military intervention in Libya.

The measure, approved by a vote of 14-5 Tuesday, authorizes U.S. involvement in NATO operations for one year, but prevents the use of American ground troops in the conflict. The resolution, introduced by Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator John McCain, also specifies the U.S. will not invest in reconstruction.

Both Kerry and McCain said it is important not to abandon the U.S. mission, saying Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is close to losing his grip on power.

But the Libya resolution failed to pass in the House of Representatives last week.

A number of Republicans and Democrats are angry with the president for failing to seek congressional authorization to intervene in Libya.

Some lawmakers accuse Mr. Obama of violating the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires approval within 60 days when U.S. forces are involved in hostilities.

But Mr. Obama says the three-month-old Libya campaign does not constitute “hostilities,” so congressional approval is not needed.

A top U.S. government lawyer Tuesday defended Mr. Obama's stance, saying the administration is acting “lawfully.”

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said the situation in Libya does not constitute a war requiring specific congressional approval under the Constitution.

He argued that because of its limited nature, U.S. military support for the NATO-led mission against Mr. Gadhafi's forces does not fall under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.